Wednesday, June 6, 2012

If you want to keep following the Williamsons and their journey through life as a newly formed family of five click on the link to the new family page. Blessings! 

justthe5ofusnow.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

11 Days Home…

Okay so I’m not blogging religiously now that we are home, partly because we were in survival mode there for the first few days and partly because there is so much to say and I don’t really want to say any of it. My other adoptive mom’s can back me up on this, it’s just so draining to consider all that has transpired in the past 3 weeks. It’s good, but it is emotionally draining. But in an effort to preserve for Hope and for Noah and Eden what it was like to expand our family to five, I will try to collect some thoughts here and now. I also will start adding in things about Noah and Eden as well. Let’s start with some lists, I just saw another adoptive mom do this and I am totally borrowing her idea!

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What Hope Likes:

  • Her bottles: and it doesn’t matter what we put in them…different flavored rice cereals, baby food, vitamins, melatonin…
  • Her Daddy
  • Her Mommy
  • Her Brother
  • Her Sister
  • Her Grandma & Grandpa Pierce
  • Walking, walking, walking
  • Her thumb
  • Her stacking cups
  • The Bath or any kind of water play
  • Her Daddy
  • Outside
  • Escalators
  • The mall
  • Little People Farm
  • Exploring
  • Cuddles and kisses from Mommy, Daddy and Brother (Eden is not interested in doing this)
  • Back and head scratches
  • The color red (she is a true Chinese girl)
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Itsy-bitsy Spider
  • Music
  • Clapping puzzle pieces with knobs on them together
  • Marbles (DHR don’t kill me…she puts nothing near her mouth except her thumb)
  • Pictures of herself and Eden
  • Did I mention HER DADDY

What Hope Dosen’t Like

  • Anything soft, fluffy, or fuzzy, all blankets and stuffed animals are out
  • Anyone new touching her
  • A blanket over her at nap/bedtime…a big no-no
  • Going down for nap or bedtime (but only for a few minutes)
  • Leaving the bath
  • Us messing with her lips (scab duty)
  • Staying in one place
  • Occasionally putting clothes on her or taking off her shoes will upset her

What Hope Can Say (which really is impressive if you saw her palate.)

  • Out
  • Up
  • Uh-oh
  • Off
  • Uh-huh

That’s about it. Seeing as you really don’t need a palate to produce those sounds.

What Hope Can Sign

  • Shoes (her favorite sign)
  • Bed
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Tree
  • Milk
  • Thirsty
  • Rhinoceros (don’t ask, just go with it)
  • Turtle
  • Finished

She can’t sign “No” but she knows what it means if directed towards her. She is learning “water”, “bath time”, “play”, “diaper change”, and “light”. She mostly knows them when they are signed to her but doesn’t produce them yet. Not bad for a child who is developmentally an 18th month old and only been with us for about 21 days.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Journey Home

To anyone who is still following along and praying us through…thank you. Your prayers were answered for our safe trip home. We are indeed here at home safely. We arrived home Friday night 40 minutes later than scheduled. Our trip to and out of Hong Kong was really quite great. We shared a van with Melissa and Craig and aside from the crazy driving of our Guangzhou driver it was a pleasant quick two hours to the Hong Kong border. Before going through the border we had to split up into individual vans. Noah loved our pimped out van with automatic curtains on the back and sides. The border check was a little intimidating. We all took our Tylenol about 45 minutes before we arrived at the border. They throw open all the van doors and point what looks like an actual gun at your forehead and read your temperature but it takes less than a second for them to read the entire car. If you didn’t know that was what they were doing you literally might think they were going to assassinate you. If you run fever...they don’t let you in Hong Kong. That would equal a nervous breakdown for Angie, as our flight home is out of Hong Kong. We had to have our passports verified and stamped and we had customs forms to fill out and hand over. It took us like 30 minutes just to process through…all from the comfort of our luxury van. Then we wound our way to our hotel. I really like the look and feel of Hong Kong. Much less stressful and it felt more westernized. A lot less people and traffic. It actually felt more like home.  I only got one picture of Hong Kong and it was out the window of our van to the hotel.

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We checked in and let the kids run around a little in the room. For the first time we saw Hope interact with Noah in a physical playful way. He was crawling on the floor and Hope had my fingers up and walking. She started chasing him and when she caught up to him she would fall a little sideways on his back like she was “getting him", and she would laugh hysterically. It was awesome to watch her play with him like that. We had a delicious meal in the hallway of our hotel room next to the bathroom on the floor…Hope had a crib in the room and we needed to put her to bed so we ate near the bathroom, the only light source. The only food that was available was indeed room service, it was outrageously priced but it was the only food around and it could be brought to our room directly. We slept well and got up early the next morning. We got an email from a friend who just did this all in December and she advised leaving extra early. So we did a quick adjust and did just that. We are so thankful we did, it allowed us enough time to get through security and immigration and get a quick  McDonalds  breakfast. Right after breakfast Hope finally went to Noah and wanted him to walk her around. And in super brother fashion…he did.

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Then we finally boarded the plane. Gulp. Here we go. And she did beautifully. She played in the seat between Noah and I for hours with her stacking cups and bracelets. She walked the plane with Daddy a few times. She pee’d on Mommy 3 times. Had her diaper changed 5 times. Pee’d on Daddy once. (Can I tell you that I hate Chinese Diapers!!!) She had 3 bottles and she slept on me for the last 6 hours of the flight. She only fussed a few times and each time it was less than 30 seconds. She was a dream.

Then we hit Chicago and she did great. We went to our hotel room for the 7 hour (which ended up being 8 hour) layover. Noah slept for 2 hours, I rested for 2 hours and Eric (God love the man) walked Hope around for 2 hours. We then went to our gate and were originally scheduled to leave on time. But weather came in and we got pushed back 40 minutes…it was all Melissa and I could do not to have a breakdown. We walked around with Hope for several hours. A sweet man in a purple button down shirt approached us at one point and said, “You look like you have had a long day. Here go get something for the kids at McDonalds.” Then he tried to hand me a $20.00 bill. I refused initially and blessed him for his thoughtfulness. But he persisted so I took the money and got Noah a chocolate shake and a Cinnamelt, which totally lifted his spirits. Before we got on the plane Noah ran over to him and thanked him again and gave him a hug. The kindness of strangers is mind-blowing. To add to that when we got to the gate initially we had to get Hope a bottle so I went to the Tea shop right near our gate and asked if I could buy hot water off of them. They were like…No Way, we will give it to you for free! Later Eric walked Hope down and she gave them a wave, smile and blew them kisses. The staff at the Tea shop were thrilled. We got one more bottle of hot water from them before we boarded the plane. We got on this flight and I was sure Hope would protest, but with bottle in hand Eric fed her and she fell asleep. Noah, now wired for sound from his McDonalds sugar rush, was super on the plane but jazzed. We played Angry Birds together and chatted. We finally touched down and got out of the tiny plane. Melissa and I let the guys get the carry on luggage that had to be stowed under the plane while we dashed out of the tunnel and across the gate to an empty gate to throw the kids on the ground and change diapers. We went back into the tunnel to get the guys and they were coming out.

So finally we got to walk out! We could immediately see Grandma, Grandpa and Eden waving to us on the other side of security. Noah took off in a run and it was all I could do not to do the same. Eden and Grandpa were holding a sign that said, “It’s me! Eden!!!” I ran to Eden and I could hear her say, “Mommy, I have to hug Mommy!” I got the biggest hug from her. Then I turned her around to see Daddy. He was holding Hope and he took Eden in his other arm to hug her. He had them both for a few seconds and they were staring at each other then Eden started talking to her, “Hi Baby Hope!” Our dear friends, Holly, Zeb and Greg were surrounding us with video and cameras capturing the moment. I am dying to see what shots they all ended up with. When I get them I’ll post some. We all hugged and cried a minute and I looked back at the causeway and half the plane was just waiting for us to finish before breaking through our group and messing up any photo shots. It was pretty amazing that they respected what was going on, even if they didn’t really didn’t know what exactly was happening at the time. Then we stared down the escalator to baggage claim where a group of people I love were waiting for us. Cathy had a big sign for Noah that said, “Welcome Home Noah”, and it had a panda and dragons on it. Noah loves it! Thanks so much to our dear friends for welcoming us home at such a late hour! It was truly a gift to us. We waited around awhile for our luggage that ended up being brought to the ticket desk upstairs and not at baggage claim. We collected everything and headed to the van where Hope would experience her first car seat…oh joy. Needless to say she didn’t like it much. But she calmed down only after about 10 minutes and she fell asleep.

We arrived home and everyone was so jazzed so we all stayed up till about 1:00 am.Before we left China I had made a book with each room of our home in it and stick people of the whole family in each room. And we had two photo books filled photos of Eden, Grandma, Grandpa, Hope,  (well all of us but primarily Eden and the G’parents). We showed her these things as much as possible. I also put up pictures of Hope in frames all over the house before we left (Noah’s idea). So when Eric walked Hope into the house he said he could see in her eyes that she had a sense of, “I’ve seen this before.” Eric said he walked right up to the mantel and and Hope pointed at a picture of Noah, then Eden and then she recognized herself. She scanned the entire mantel and surrounding wall and picked out 3 pictures of herself. You could so see her mind working it out. “Hey, I’M on this wall. I belong here.” Eric then took her to through the kitchen to the playroom to another picture of herself and the back to the foyer where there were 3 more pictures of her. She is a smart little girl and it was amazing to watch her take all this in. He walked her around the entire house and then back to the playroom where Eden and Noah were joyously reuniting and playing again. Those two raced all over the house. Eden was so sweet to Hope and tried to share everything with her. It was a very cool night. Then we all went downstairs to our bedroom where the crib was set up. All three kids were playing on the bed (well Hope was downing a bottle and Eden and Noah were playing). We finally sent Noah up stairs to go to bed in his room with Grandma and Eric took Eden upstairs as I put Hope in her bed and started to sing to her. She only protested a second before quieting down. Eden however was displeased at being upstairs while Mommy sang to Hope. So Eric brought her down again and Eden crawled up on my chest while I sang and Eric cuddled next to me and I got all choked up and had to pull it together to finish singing.(As a note: I was not the only one choked up.) Hope drifted off and then Eden crawled over to Daddy and then down to his pillow where she drifted off. It was incredible to experience. I will never forget it. Eric finally took Eden back to bed and we then we stayed up a few more minutes praising God for His glorious plan and workmanship.

We all slept through the night…sorta. Hope cried out a few times and my back woke me up at 5 am. I came upstairs and laid down on the couch until about 8:30 when Eden woke up. Grandma brought her to me and we got to snuggle on the couch for a while. It was awesome! At 11:30 Eric crawled upstairs and I crawled down. I got back in bed but Noah and Eden were so rambunctious I couldn’t sleep much. It was fun to listen to them though. I especially liked when Grandpa came in the front door and Eden started screaming, “Doughnuts! Doughnuts!” Which he indeed did have for them. I rolled out of the bed an hour later and Eric came down to wake Hope up. We had a good day but it was tiresome. Dad and I went to 3 different stores looking for a particular formula that can’t be found so I ended up just getting a normal brand. Then we had a wonderful dinner supplied to us by my dear friend Ana. I love that her job causes us to “have to” eat prime rib! Gotta love being BFF’s with a professional chef! Earlier that day Eden taught Hope how to squat. Weird, I know, but Hope had never done it before. And whatever Eden is doing Hope is already copying. It is incredible. The played with bubbles out on the porch. Notice the double squat.

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The coolest and most amazing thing by far was what happened after dinner. Keep in mind that Hope doesn’t like strangers…she won’t even let them touch her without crying. Also keep in mind that we have been showing her pictures of G’ma and G’pa and Skype-ing with them for over a week now. After dinner, Hope was sitting on my lap and my Mom was on the floor talking to Hope. Hope reached out for my Mom to get off my lap. So my Mom set her down off my lap and then let her go. And that was all Hope wanted. Then later she reached out for my Mom’s finger to “walk”, so my Mom walked her around the kitchen and the hallway, but Hope always had to come right back to me. I couldn’t be far. Then if that wasn’t amazing enough. She went to my Dad and reached for him to come get her and walk her. So she grabbed his finger and walked, but Eric had to be around for her to come over to. And at one point my Mom was squatting down by Hope and Hope put her arms around my Mom’s neck to be picked up. So Mom picked her up and then she reached immediately for Eric. It was wild. I really do think the photos, the Skype-ing and watching Noah interact with my parents, helped Hope to determine they were safe. Now we aren’t throwing bonding priority to the wind lest anyone think that. But my parents will be a fixture around here and in Hope’s life so I want her to be comfortable with them. We all talked about how to proceed today and Mom isn’t coming up to Hope as much today, but Hope has walked with her a little. Eric and I do all the care duties. We are actually thrilled how she seems to be adapting.

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And look who else got to walk with Hope! Big sister Eden! She also wanted to help feed Hope…but only for about 20 seconds.

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We all went to bed at a descent hour except for my Mom and Dad. Eden has a weird rash that might be staph…so we had to have a specially compounded cream made for her last night that wasn’t ready until 11:30 pm for pick up and it had to be applied immediately. Nice. That is sooooo our Eden. But she is MUCH improved today so praise Jesus for Dr. Dudgeon and his proactive measures. No one really slept much last night. Noah and Eric woke up at 2 a.m. Hope was up around the same time but she did not need to get out of her crib or anything. She stayed put and put herself back to sleep after about an hour. She woke up a couple other times and only once did I have to sing her back asleep. I was awake most of the night but resting. We got Hope up at 7:30 and started our day. Eden woke up about 8:30. Eric made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon and everyone rejoiced. The big thing however was that we got Hope in a bathtub for the first time and she LOVED it! I got in a swimming suit and Eden got in her birthday suit and we got in the tub. Eric brought Hope in and sat her on his lap. She immediately started reaching for me and he couldn’t get her clothes off her quick enough. She had a blast! I don’t think I will have to co-bathe with her many more times but for bonding purposes I will do it a few more times. All in all I’d say she is doing wonderful. We are taking it day by day and trying not to be too na├»ve…we know the perils of international adoption and know that many will still come our way but for today we are doing the best case scenario for our family and we will take it and run!

I had a moment in Chongqing where I was at breakfast by myself and I was praying and I was telling God, “This sure is hard. Gotcha Day was a train wreck. The orphanage tour was almost unbearable but all in all it seems that things are going, well, good, almost textbook perfect. How can that be?!” And he clearly responded with His own words and it was like a flash of bright light in my head. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.” --Romans 12:2. I  just started weeping at the table at how instantly the Holy Spirit brought that scripture to mind in response to my question. The reason I was feeling like things were going, good, pleasing and perfect, albeit difficult and hard, for us, is because we were smack dab in the middle of God’s will for our lives. How often does that happen and you realize it?! Our journey may not be one that would be considered good, perfect and pleasing to someone else, but isn't that the point? Our journey is God’s will for our lives and so it is good, pleasing and perfect for us. Just like His word says. God is so faithful. All glory and honor be unto his Holy and precious name.

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Big brother looking after his little sisters and loving it.

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Bath time! Bath time! Everybody every where! Blessings dear ones!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Honk Kong to U.S.A.

Well friends, this is the last China post. We are up and getting ready to head to the airport. We are so thankful. We arrive at the Birmingham Airport at 9:25 pm Friday. For those that want to meet us there, we had posted a blog saying that you could come up to Hope and lightly touch her and talk to her. We need to revise that. Please DO NOT touch her. She is very afraid of strangers and this traveling will make it worse. You can talk to her but please try not to touch her. Keep praying for safe and easy travels. She is a good traveller but 14 hours on a plane makes me crazy, imagine being her. We are going to attempt to catch an earlier flight out of Chicago if by some miracle one has been added. If our flight changes we will post it on FB and here on the blog.

We can’t thank everyone enough for following our journey with prayers and encouragement. We have really needed all the love you have all shared. We will keep the blog open for a little while as we enter into surgery season, but will close it probably around December so it will only be for our sweet Hope to re-read some day. Blessings to all who have loved us through this entire process both friends and strangers. It has been an honor to share in God’s plan with you. Blessings dear ones!

Goodbye Guangzhou!

We’ve had a couple good lazy days recently. On Tuesday we went to the famed Shaimen Island to do some shopping and touristy stuff. We took a taxi and it was thrilling needless to say. When he crossed the bridge to the island he literally stopped the car on the bridge and said, “Shaimen, you go.” So we had to wander down half the island to find the “touristy spots.” We got some heritage stuff for the girls and Noah. We found a popular sculpture that people tend to take pictures next to. Noah had just bought a bamboo sword and here is our picture of the curtsey girl…IMG_1027

No one move or the curtsey girl gets it!! Hope was a little more apt to stay with me today and she was quite good on the shopping tour. I finally got some snuggle time on the way home in the death defying taxi ride…strange place for snuggles but I’ll take ‘em where I can get ‘em.

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Could you just kiss all over that sweet smile!!!!

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Snuggle time!!

Then that evening we went on the evening river ride and saw all the lights on the river. We had a good time and later there was a magician. He played with the Chinese kids most of the show but then finally I scooted Noah closer to the front and the magician spied Noah and came straight for him for the final trick. He had a fist full of white paper and then came to Noah and pretended to take a hair off Noah’s head then he added it to the paper, hit it and it became a fist full of Chinese Yuan (money)! I told Noah we were gonna shave his head later if it turns paper into money!

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Wednesday we had our consulate appointment and baby girl became a U.S. Citizen (well the moment we touch down in Chicago she will be). It was quick and easy. Then we lazed around and went to the pool and went out to eat with Melissa and Craig to Mexican. We had to say goodbye to a sweet Mama and her two girls but we hope to catch up with them when we get back home. Vicky and her girls live in Montgomery. Then there is today…we packed up and swam and ran to the Trustmart (Walmart) for more formula. We said goodbye to another precious family today as well, Amber and Brian and their girls. They were such a blessing to us while we were here. I will really miss them. We also said goodbye to Suzanne and her daughters another sweet family. We will all try to keep in touch and follow each other children. I know I won’t forget these amazing families we met here in China. We are now one hour away from our 3 hour van ride to Hong Kong. We are riding with Melissa and Craig and their sweet son. It will be good to have friends on the trip. We will check in to our hotel around 8  p.m. I would guess. Then we fly out of Hong Kong at 11:10 am tomorrow. I have no idea when we will have to leave the hotel but it is likely around 8 am. We can’t wait to get home. Noah is really home sick today and I think we all are truth be told. Don’t know if I’ll get to blog from Hong Kong. If not, see you on the other side! Blessings dear ones!

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Noah’s favorite place…one of the several Koi ponds in the hotel.

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Me and my girl.

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I got all my bracelets on! (That would be 7 total)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jane Martin THIS Post Is For YOU!

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So today was zoo day and it was GREAT! Hope and Noah both loved it. We took a golf cart around the zoo first and it was cool and nice. Hope loves riding. We stopped at the Panda’s and Big Cats to get out to film then when we finished the golf cart tour we had an hour to burn so we went to see the monkeys…big shock there huh? It was a good day, here are some of our favorite shots. The Big Cats were amazing in that a female lion started to roar and then a big male chimed in and then another couple females joined. It was amazing and loud! I have it on video but I won’t bore you with it.

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I must say the black leopard was one of my favorities, followed by the chimpanzees. The Asian elephant was much bigger than I thought it would be and I have never seen a 2-humper camel before. So it was a wild kingdom sort of day. Now we are in naptime and swim time. We will likely ring up some friends for dinner, I’d like to try Italian tonight…we shall see. Tomorrow we have the day off and we go to a night time dinner cruise on the river that is supposed to be wonderful. Then Wednesday is our consulate appointment and shopping on Shaiman Island. Thursday we pack up and leave at 4:30 pm via van with another family and head for Hong Kong. Friday at 11:00 am we fly home!!!!!!!! I’ll keep you posted. Hope is doing great today. Her lip is much better with the coconut oil we believe and things are good. Keep praying please! Blessings dear ones!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Word About Sweet Eden

Okay…I don’t like being gone this long from my precious Eden Marie. To say that it is killing me is almost and understatement. Praise the Lord for Skype and my Dad sending us photo’s from Camp Grandparents. She is having the time of her life. She apparently doesn’t remember to miss us much, she doesn’t get weepy or call for us. She is delighted to see us on Skype but only for a few minutes and then she is off and busy doing something more fun. I am so thankful for this. I am so blessed with parents who are willing to take care of a 2 1/2 year old for 18 days!! And they don’t just take care of her…they spoil her rotten…which I am conflicted about…hee hee. (The re-training takes so long.) I’m so blessed to know that while I am here, Eden is safe, sound, and happy as a lark, there. Here are some of the photos we have received from Dad…I love this gorgeous girl. Keep her in your prayers too please!

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This last one is my favorite one…Hollywood eat your heart out!

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Thanks Mom and Dad…we could not have done this trip without you. We love you so very much.