Yesterday we had a free day to explore Zhengzhou. We were happy we have been here before so we knew we wanted to go to a local park that has kiddie rides and white pigeons you can feed. Our first stop after the amazing breakfast buffet was to the local Carrefour to do our laundry. It is like a laundromat but you pay them to wash and dry everything and then you pick it up mostly folded. Two loads cost about $11 US dollars. That was the same price the hotel would have charged for just two pairs of jeans through their laundry service. We ran into the store for diapers, juice and wipes. Sophie has a virus and has had quite a lot of loose stools and need for change of outfits. Please pray she gets better before our flight to Guangzhou on Friday night.
Once we got back to the hotel we headed to the park with two other families. It is always more fun with friends. My total walking yesterday was only 5.5 miles but because I was carrying Sophie it felt like 50 miles! Thankfully we hailed a taxi for the trip back to the hotel. The park was lovely and all the kids seemed to enjoy the fresh air. We even had Sophie on two different kiddie rides. She was pointing and gesturing so we took her on. There are few if any safety rules for the rides. No seatbelts, kids standing up while the rides are in motion, stopping the ride mid way to let kids on and off. So different from the US. Even Christian and Emily and I were able to ride. One of the rides they gave you a net and you try to catch popping up balls while the ride is in motion. Next we headed to our favorite place in the park, the pigeon house where you can feed pigeons. Conner, Christian and Emily all had pigeon land on them. The pigeons are super neat. The food is only .40 a bag. We bought countless bags and enjoyed photographing them. The trip was complete with Christian and several of the other children trying a hot dog or sausage on a stick. We took the taxi back while Sophie napped in the front pack. We grabbed lunch and then went to the hotel for a rest. Conner headed out to take photos in the later afternoon and then we went to pick up our laundry and to shop at the local mall for some clothing for Sophie. After shopping we headed back so Christian could swim and so I could rest. Carrying her everywhere is the hardest part. Her 30 pounds and my 52 year old arm muscles are not the best combination. She clearly prefers me but tolerates Conner and Emily distracting her at times. She is so sweet but can be fiesty. She lives throwing things and loves to be ticketed. Her smile and giggle are priceless. We can’t wait to introduce her to the rest of the family. So wish we could have brought everyone.
She fell asleep in my arms while I gave her her bottle. She slept through the night in her crib. Today we head to her orphanage and it is the same orphanage where Wyatt spent his first year. When we came to get Wyatt Tim was able to visit the Cerebral Palsy Hospital where he lived but we never saw this orphanage. Hudson spent a few nights here too I believe. We will also get to see Wyatt’s finding spot. Please pray for this trip to not be traumatic for Sophie. We are praying we can meet and thank her nanny’s and foster mom. Thanks for praying for our journey to get Sophie. We are heading to Guangzhou tomorrow evening to start the final leg of our trip. Because our Consulate appointment is a day before the rest of the group we leave a day before them and do a lot of the appointments without the group on this final leg of the trip. We are all bummed to leave before everyone. It just seems like leaving family. Thanks for your prayers as we continue to bond and get to know little Sophie. We appreciate you all so very much.
Feel free to comment on the blog, or to email me to let me know you are out there. It seems like we only have one or two blog followers. It is encouraging to hear from all of you. Have a blessed day!
It’s Official and passport paperwork
Well, yesterday Sophie woke up at 7 am after a full nights sleep. She fell asleep in my arms and I transferred her to her crib. She is oh so precious. We can’t wait for you all to meet her. She did very well today with all of the paperwork appointments. Our guides ,Tina and Rita, are amazing they understand adoption so well. They explain about hoarding, crying, needed safety, bonding with only one parent first, eating issues and so much more. What a blessing they are to some of the new adoptive parents.
Our first stop today was the office where we were given the official adoption certificate which finalizes Sophie as an official Haines. Welcome to our family Sophie Wenhong Haines! This brief ceremony took place in the same building where we received both Wyatt and Hudson and where we officially adopted them too. The director of the orphanage where both Wyatt and Sophie stayed sent a photo of our gotcha day with Wyatt to our guide yesterday. He went out of his way to find a photo of precious Wyatt from over 4 years ago. Not only did he remember Wyatt’s name but he sent the picture. The director was indeed happy when I shared our Christmas card photo with him. We will be touring the orphanage on Thursday and hope to see him again. On Thursday we will also get the chance to see Wyatt’s finding spot which we believe is across from the orphanage near a science and technology college. This is something we did not get to do before. Sophie’s finding spot is 2 hours away and Hudson’s finding spot is at least 2 hours away in a different direction. Wyatt is happy we are getting see his spot. Wish we could have brought him back with us again this time. He really can’t wait to return to China to visit again. He asked me to bring him a hot dog on a stick! Not sure it would travel so well!
After the official decree we headed to the notary and to get our passport papers notarized. I had to climb the 6 flights of stairs with Sophie. I felt like I was back at the Great Wall! We arrived back to the hotel after over 3 hours of paperwork for a quick lunch. So incredibly thankful Conner came with us or all we would be eating is crackers and fruit and Raman noodles in the room. He grabbed us Chinese food for lunch. The rice was delicious! We headed back out to the passport application office. More waiting and more staring. With 8 kiddos 14 parents 4 travel companions and 11 siblings we stood out! We arrived back to the hotel by 3:40 and then headed to the pool with some of Christian’s new friends. After the kids swam , Conner headed out to get us Pizza Hut. So much for being dairy and gluten free. I so can’t wait for a big salad when I get home!
Bedtime was harder tonight. Sophie only wanted to play with Emily’s phone and became upset when I took it away to settle her down. She did not want me to sit down to rock her but instead wanted me to stand up. I finally rocked her to sleep. My arms were aching after only 30 minutes. I put her in bed and she immediately woke up screaming again. I laid her in our bed with Emily while I ran to the bathroom and she kept crying. When I came back to bed and pulled her next to me she stopped crying immediately and fell fast asleep. She is still sleeping as I type this. She slept all night, although she pushed either Emily and I all night. So glad she seems to be attaching to me. She likes the kids but truly prefers me. She said mama referring to me multiple times. Emily already taught her high five and I taught her the sign for more. She jabbers in baby Mandarin and said “guh guh” which means big brother. She is bigger than we thought she would be , so today we will be heading to the local mall to find her a few things to wear. We are heading to our favorite pigeon park in Zhengzhou with a few families today. It is nice to be in a large group with everyone else going through the same things together. We had a large group with Wyatt for the first and last part of the trip but the in Province group was just us. This time we will have started and ended the trip with all the same families.
Please continue to pray for all the families as we bond to our precious new children. Adoption illustrates the gospel so beautifully and every time we adopt another child God vividly reminds me that this is exactly what he has done for me. He has chosen me, redeemed me and called me his own. Oh what a mighty God we serve. Please pray for all the precious little ones and older ones who are waiting for families that they would not remain orphans any longer. God did not leave us as orphans, he came to us in our sinfulness and redeemed us. Let us not leave these children as orphans but instead run to them with open arms to welcome them into our families so that they can hear and understand the gospel. Oh may all of these forgotten ones be adopted twice. Once into our family and once into God’s family. Adoption is a beautiful picture of God’s grace and mercy !
We left Beijing on Sunday morning. Thanks to our amazing guide he got our whole group to the bullet train station complete with porters to help with our luggage and a private waiting room and a chance to get on the train before everyone else. We also were given business class spacious seats. A wonderful smooth train ride that was a little delayed due to snow on the track. Once we got here it took 2 hours at the freezing cold bank exchanging all of our money. I suppose it was to get some “cold hard cash”. We then went on a freezing tour of all the yummy restaurants and a trip to Carrefour a Walmart type store. We stocked up on formula and snacks. Off to bed in anticipation of gotcha day.
The day began with much excitement! Conner was up most of the night since he was unable to sleep due to jet lag, Christian woke up at 4 and Emily and I made it to just about 6. We were all packed the night before, complete with clothing, snacks and toys. Our guide said “ you can win them with love and sugar!” At breakfast Tim called to tell me that Hudson was complaining of his head hurting and there was swelling on the back left side. Since Tim had been with him all day and he had not been hurt and since this little guy never complains about pain and since he had a traumatic brain injury at birth, Tim decided to take him to the ER. When Kayla called our neighbor to ask her to put Hudson on the church prayer chain she found out that he had fallen and hit his head at their house at lunch but since he did not cry Tim did not know he had gotten hurt. They sent him home from the ER watching out for a concussion. Praise God we found out he was ok before we meet Sophie!
When we arrived at the office to receive our children before we were even in the door they announced that Zhou Wen Hong was already inside. When we got inside the orphanage director was holding her but we barely recognized her dressed in a black coat and black shirts and navy pants and a short hair. Christian asked me why they gave us a boy instead of a girl. She tentatively looked at me but when the director went to give her to me she did not want to come to me. She eventually let me hold her and she just sobbed and sobbed. Finally Emily and I won her over with “bear crumbs” the name Wyatt gave to Teddy grahams when we adopted him. She warmed up to us and we even got some smiles and giggles. She is so sweet and charming. We are in awe that this day has finally come. The orphanage director remembered me and he even remembered Wyatt calling him by his Chinese name. He was so excited to see our family Christmas card. One of the other government employees came up to me and asked if I had adopted before. She was excited to see me too. Our guide,Danielle from wyatt and Hudson’s adoption is here and we plan to connect with her on Thursday afternoon. Thank you for all of your prayers. Her foster mom at the orphanage calls her chubby girl in Chinese and we can see why since her checks are a pound each. We weighed her back at the room and she is about 5 pounds heavier than they told us. I will get my work out this week since she can’t walk. Conner kindly took photos and videos for everyone in the group. Everyone is so appreciative.
Once back at the room we made her Raman noodles for lunch and she enjoyed eating them and when Conner came back with pizza for the rest of us she enjoyed that too. They said she is not a picky eater and that appears to be true. She loves playing peek a boo, and catch with the ball. She has a strong left hand and loves to play. We had one hour of paperwork to do after lunch. All went well. She enjoyed playing with me in the room when the rest of the kids went to the pool. However after a bit she got sad and began gesturing to the door to leave and seemed content as long as we were not in the room. Once the kids were back from the pool she seemed happy to be back. Dinner was French fries and more noodles. She fell asleep at 8:30 in my arms. She slept through the night. She sucks her thumb while she sleeps. She is just too precious. Today we have hours of paperwork ahead at least 5 at two local offices so we can get her a passport. We also will become her official parents as soon as the adoption registration is final this morning. Please keep us in prayer as we continue to bond with her in the midst of papers and constant moving around. Thank you!
Yesterday we went to the Great Wall. Because of a traffic reroute it took us 3 hours to go the 90 minute trip. Once there we had to decide if we should go to the easy side or the difficult steep side. Guess which side won? Conner, Emily and Christian took the side least travelled, the steep side! Two other CCAI families joined us for the steep hike. It was an incredibly difficult accent and a terrifying descent for this 52 year old mom. I did not exactly keep up or go as far as my kiddos but I was proud of my efforts. When I got back down I realized that I had climbed up 41 stories and the kids had climbed up 56 stories. The biggest challenge in climbing up is not only how steep the steps are but how different the heights of the steps are. The view from the point I made it to was breathtaking. After my kids were out of sight I hiked up with another CCAI family. It was nice to have someone to talk with on the trip up and back. The saddest part of the trip to the wall is the realization that in order for this 5,500.3 mile wall to be built it required that 1/5 of the population of China to be forced into building this wall. 9 out of 10 of the forced laborers died while building the wall. Because there was nowhere else to put them those who died were buried in the wall making the wall the world’s longest cemetery.
From the wall we went to lunch at a jade factory. The factory is owned by the government as is the attached restaurant. A delicious lunch was served at round tables with lazy Susan’s. We enjoyed pepper steak, rice, sweet and sour chicken, and more. After lunch we went on a tour of the the jade factory and learned how to discern real from fake jade. A skill I am sure we will be glad to have discerned LOL. We were able to skillfully avoid the high pressure sales and headed off to the acrobat show.
This was the third acrobat show I went to and it always amazes me how there are little to no safety rules for the performers. We just found out after the show that the acrobats train for 10 years and start as young as 5 or 6. They are chosen to be performers. Their skill is incredible but oh so sad to realize that they have no say in this way of life. I read online that they train for 8,000 hours or about 1 year of time between the ages of 5 and 10. I believe that these children while they are training do not live at home and are given the opportunity to get a better education by joining the acrobatic troupe. Another way children are being exploited. They have giant hamster wheels that young men run in and on with no guide wires. There is also a giant metal ball where motorcycles race around. They start with one motorcycle and eventually 7 motorcycles with lights are all racing around the metal ball in the dark. The exhaust fumes and ohs and ah’s fill the theater. I left wondering what these young performers experience knowing that they have spent their young lives dedicated to doing something that they likely did not choose but instead chose them. More children and young adults who have been exploited under the guise of better education. It is our prayer that children in China and everywhere would be loved cherished and allowed to live lives doing what they love to do. Because we just found out about how the acrobats join the troupe Conner has written a letter to our adoption agency asking them to not support this show.
Once back at our hotel we met two missionaries and their 4 children, ages 2, 5, 6 and 9. These missionaries are ones that Conner stayed with for 2 nights a few weeks ago when he was in China delivering the “gospel”. We enjoyed connecting with them and had dinner together at Subway. Their boys were so excited to eat at Subway! This precious couple has great faith and are currently in the process to adopt a little 2 year old with Down syndrome. They have lived in China for 3 years building bridges and sharing Jesus with those they meet. Please pray for them to be able to adopt precious “Young Mei” as it is clear that she sees this family as her own.
We finally went to bed completely exhausted. We had woke up at 1 am so it had been 21 hours since we had been up. We fell asleep immediately to prepare for the 2 1/2 hour bullet train ride to Zhengzhou in the Henan Province. This is the Province where our precious little girl lives. This will get us one step closer to meeting Sophie! We will Lord willing be meeting her around 9:30 or so your time on Sunday evening (our Monday morning). Keep praying for her transition to our family! Thank you.
Greetings from China! We enjoyed our first day touring Beijing. Well enjoying may not be the right word since it felt like we had to endure because of the extreme cold. Our toes and fingers were numb after the 4 mile trek through the Forbidden City. We did stop for one hot milk tea break to warm ourselves. The steaming cups of tea were terrific hand warmers. The Forbidden City was the palace complex from the Ming to the Qing dynasties from 1420 till 1912. The Forbidden City served as the home of emperors and their households and was the center of Chinese government for about 500 years. The complex has 980 buildings and covers 180 acres. Our CCAI tour guide Jason was knowledgeable about the many buildings and history of this ancient complex. You can see the building details in Conner’s photos.
After the Forbidden City we were able to ride on a rickshaw. A rickshaw is a three wheeled bicycle with a driver in the front and two seat cart in the back. Our group rode in pairs to a local families home to enjoy a traditional lunch. Lunch was yummy and we enjoyed roasted peanuts, chicken and green beans, chicken and celery, glazed chicken legs, meatballs, rice, chicken and onions, hot tea and sprite. We then had the opportunity to hear from the owner of this home. His home has been in his family for 4 generations. His young daughter will inherit it next. If it were to be sold it would be worth 5 million US dollars. The price is because of the age of the homes and their historic value as well as the cost of real estate in the middle of Beijing. Many other homes like his have been demolished to make way for high rise apartment buildings. The interesting thing is that because their is no sewage drains in the individual home courtyards the family must go to a central toilet a few minutes walk down the street. Christian and I bravely went into the public restrooms where there are communal squats potties in one room with no doors. When I walked in, one woman was pulling up her pants and another woman was squatting while scrolling through her smartphone! Quite a dicotomy to be sure! Also the owner of the home raises homing pigeons and shared that one pair of his pigeons was worth $40,000. He has won trophies and top prizes for his pigeons. The top prize is $100,000. Perhaps raising pigeons would be a good investment!
We then made our way by bus back to the hotel for a little nap that was supposed to be thirty minutes and ended up with us all falling asleep from 3:30 pm till 1:00 am, all of us except Conner who is trying to nap right now. We slept right through the planned group dinner and now we are awake and will be until at least 8:30 tonight. Please pray that our internal clocks get set to some new normal. We were able to FaceTime home, do our devotions, have family devotions, blog, edit pictures, watch movies, shower, organize our luggage and relax all before the 6:30 am breakfast! How crazy is that? Since we slept through dinner we had a small pack of gluten free peanut butter crackers to hold us over for the 5 1/2 hour hour wait till breakfast. Crazy schedule to be sure.
Today we are heading to the Great Wall. We are praying the the weather will be smog free so that we can see the wall. It is about a 45 minute upward walk to the top point of the part of the wall we will be going to. After our time at the wall we will enjoy seeing how they make jade and then will enjoy a lunch at the Jade Factory Restaurant. We will go to an acrobat show in the afternoon and then have dinner with some friends Conner made while he was in China a few weeks ago. It will be a full day. Tomorrow we take the bullet train to Sophie’s Province, the Henan Province. We will meet her on Monday morning around 9:30 am our time and 8:30 pm Sunday evening your time. We will try to FaceTime family and take lots of pictures and videos for you all to see. Please pray for us as we prepared to meet our daughter/sister. Please pray that she will understand why we are here and how very much we love her. Thanks for following us on this amazing journey to bring sweet Sophie home.
Hey y’all! Yesterday (Friday) we had a great day of touring around Beijing even though it was incredibly cold! Today (Saturday) we will go the Great Wall and do a few other things. On Sunday we will be taking a train to Sophie’s city! Enjoy these pics of Beijing, they aren’t in order though!
Dearest friends and family,
We are currently traveling 567 miles per hour and over Canada. The temperature outside is negative 56 degrees! And I thought PA had a cold winter! We still have 11 1/2 hours till we land in Beijing and we are 6257 miles away! We are flying at an altitude of 35,002. It still amazes me that we are literally flying into the future as we fly into a new time zone 13 hours ahead of our EST.
Having hours of uninterrupted time to pray, to read and reflect has been oh so sweet.
I finally finished a wonderful little book called Adoption and the Gospel by Gerald Clark. I thought I would take a minute to share a bit of what I learned. James 1:27 is the key verse for this book. “An orphans foremost affliction, or distress, is not belonging to a family, and the word visit means far more than just a social call to an orphanage. Visit in the original Greek, episkeptomai, means go in person to “inspect and select” (for the purpose of discovering someone’s needs and to “select” for the purpose of helping to fulfill the needs we discover). “.
He then goes on to explain that “God wants us to visit orphans in their affliction so we will discover their desperate need for love,home,and family. He showed us by his example that fully delivering orphans from affliction includes adoption”. Because of the generosity of each one of you we are able to deliver Sophie and provide her a forever family.
He goes on to say “When we donate funds to help other families adopt, we are emulating Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to pay for our own adoption. “. Thank you for giving extravagantly so that we can live out James 1:27 allowing one less orphan to be in the world this week. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to our family and financially supporting the cost of our whole adoption. ALL $40,000! We stand in awe over you all helping us redeem this precious child of God. We pray that you will journey with us over the next 16 days as we bring home precious Sophie.
In the grip of His grace,
Dawn, Conner, Emily and Christian
Hey, so quick update we are here in Beijing! We had a safe and beautiful flight from Newark on Wednesday’s and landed here at 3pm on Thursday. Everything went smoothly and today we will be touring around Beijing a bit!
We are so excited that we are heading to China tomorrow! God has graciously blessed us with a medical expedite so that we can travel much sooner than we originally planned. May God be glorified as we travel to meet this sweet little girl. We can’t wait to meet our precious little girl Sophie Wenhong. She is 2 1/2 years old and was born with a brain injury and a heart defect. We are praying that she will understand that we love her and that she would not be afraid of us. Please pray for her peace and comfort as she meets us. Please pray for me as I travel without Tim. I am taking Conner, Emily and Christian and Tim is holding down the fort at home. I will miss not traveling with my best friend. I am praying that the kids and I get rest on the flight and adjust well to the 13 hour time change. Thank you for your prayers for all of us as we adjust to having a new little one in the house. We will keep this blog updated daily as we travel. January 24 till February 9. Please follow along with us as we bring Sophie home.
Thank you all for your financial support, prayer support and encouragement as we journey to bring Sophie home.
In the grip of His grace,
Mother of 13 and writes this blog.