Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Xi'an - Day 3

It's late, and everyone is sound asleep, so this will have to be a short post. Today was another emotional day, but overall, we're all doing fine. We spent the first half of the day on our own, so we took a walk down the street to the big store our guide calls the "Chinese Walmart" and had fun exploring there. It's always so interesting to see things that are different from our culture. Of course, just getting there and back is quite the adventure because pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. In fact, I'm not sure anybody does and it's a lot like playing Frogger - only it's for real!

Bathed, dressed and ready to start the day!
At 2:00, it was time to meet Amanda's driver in the lobby so he could take us to visit the Starfish Foster Home. Sophia came with him as an interpreter and although I was very glad to see her and so glad she could spend a little more time with little Sophia, it was a bit hard on all of us. Going to Starfish was amazing though - I think it was a truly eye-opening experience for Madeline. It was very hard/touching to see all those precious children there who don't have families of their own. Some of them have already been matched and are just waiting for their families to be able to come get them, as is the case with Nadia. She and little Sophia are best buddies and it was just precious to see them together! Sophia had been crying in the car on the way to Starfish, but when she saw Nadia, she practically lunged to give her a hug! It was so sweet. Nadia's family will be here in two weeks, so I'm very glad she won't have to stay there much longer now that Sophia is gone. Coming back to the hotel was an emotional ride as well, and that's where we said goodbye to big Sophia, who is truly an angel in our eyes. Had our guide, Tom, not already been in the lobby waiting for us to come back down to meet our little group, I'm quite certain the crying little Sophia and I did in the hotel room would have moved well past tears and into the ugly cry category. No time for that though, and I'm sure it was a good thing that we had distractions.

Seeing Nadia again for the first time. It was very obvious these two girls love each other a lot.

We walked around outside Starfish for a while and she and Nadia took turns riding in the stroller and pushing it around.

Another Starfish doll baby. Jacqueline, I tried to find a way to sneak this one out in my bag for you, but didn't get away with it. Is she adorable, or what?
We made it back downstairs, met up with our guide, Michelle, Mary and Marie Ling and headed for the Muslim Market. The weather was really nice and we walked all up and down the streets. We saw so many interesting things, did some bargaining, bought some cool things and ate way too many dumplings! (Brooks, believe it or not, Sophia only ate 1 1/2 of them!) I think it was the perfect distraction for Sophia to get out of the hotel room and go some place where there was so much to see. She eventually fell asleep and stayed that way the rest of the evening - even while I got her ready for bed. She is one sound sleeper!

Some of my favorite people in the world :-)

The Bell Tower in Xi'an and part of the city wall.

Roasted duck, anyone?

Yes, I know... precious beyond words.
Tom is an excellent guide - along with taking care of all our adoption procedures, he's doing a fantastic job of teaching us so much about the history here in Xi'an. For now, we're just waiting on her passport to be ready, but that won't be until Friday. So tomorrow we're heading to the Terracotta Warriors Museum, which we've really been looking forward to. Rodney and I keep saying how different this adoption trip is from any of our trips to Russia. We did do a bit of sight seeing there, but nothing like we're getting to do here. We almost feel guilty we're having such a nice trip so far. Almost... but not quite! :-)

So much for keeping it short, huh? Thanks for reading this and for all the comments, emails and messages we've been getting. We appreciate each of them so much!

Till next time,

Monday, November 29, 2010

What an Amazing Day!

I have to start this post by giving thanks to God for blessing us in such an amazing way! We have been specifically praying for months the He would prepare Sophia's heart to bond quickly with us and for her not to be afraid. We have NO DOUBT she is doing this well because of all those prayers! Sophia slept 12 hours straight without waking up at all (we were prepared for her to wake up scared in the night). When she did wake up, she looked around the room, reached for me to pick her up, and had been nothing but smiles and laughter ever since. Seriously!!!

We had to go back to the civil affairs office twice today to take care of additional paperwork (our adoption is now final!) and then to the passport office to apply for hers, and all the while she just jibber-jabbered and played with us. She has snuggled, cuddled, kissed, smiled, laughed... and completely amazed us all day long. We went out to dinner tonight with Michelle and Mary (Michelle's sister) and Marie Ling, who was adopted today. Marie Ling turned eight years old today and it was such an pleasure to be in the civil affairs office at the time she was brought to Michelle. What a brave little girl she is! We assume she's never been to a restaurant before and she put us to shame with her chopsticks. (Really and truly, they didn't bring us any forks!) Sophia did fantastic the entire time we were there. Oh my goodness she is such a doll!!!

She's in her crib right now chatting up a storm and I'm hoping she goes to sleep easily, but if I must rock her to sleep, well, somebody has to do it! :-)  (Update - it took a while to get all the photos uploaded and she finally laid down and went to sleep without a single tear. Lots of smiles though!)

Here are pictures of our past two days. She is the most adorable little girl - I hope you enjoy the pictures half as much as we have enjoyed being with her!

This first set of pictures is of our Gotcha moment. It was very hard on everyone, but we are so thankful to big Sophia for staying with us and helping little Sophia thru it. You can click on any of them to enlarge the photo.


After we left the civil affairs office, big Sophia came back to the hotel and was a HUGE help in getting little Sophia settled down. We got to see her smiling and happy and are so grateful for this time together!

This next set of picture is from today (Monday). What a precious little girl we've been blessed with!

Daddy had her squealing with delight each time he did this with her - don't worry, she's laughing here, not crying!

OK, not a picture of Sophia, but I just had to include this one. These typical Chinese split pants just "crack" me up. (Pun intended!)

Our little travel group. Michelle is on the right with her new daughter, Marie Ling, and Michelle's sister, Mary. We're really enjoying getting to spend some time with them.

Hanging out at the restaurant. I should have taken pictures of some of the crazy things on the menu (that we DIDN'T order), but what we did get was really good and for ALL of us (including Michelle, Mary and Marie Ling, it was only $30!)

Last but not least, my favorite picture, even though it's a bit blurry. She is such a cuddly girl and I'm loving every minute of it!
Tomorrow we have free time in the morning and then we're going to Starfish in the afternoon. I'm looking so forward to meeting Amanda and all the nannies that have helped take such great care of our little girl. It may be hard on Sophia when we leave, but Rodney and I both feel it's important that we go visit Starfish, and after seeing what a resilient little girl she is, I know she's going to be OK.

We are so grateful for all your prayers! Isn't it amazing how He keeps answering them???!!! Keep them coming - we're hoping each day just gets better and better!

Till next time,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

She is ours!

I know there are many people waiting to hear how today went. We've been up since 4:00am when we had to get ready to leave Beijing, and today was quite an emotional day, so I hope you'll understand that I'm going to keep this short tonight. We are thrilled beyond words to have our daughter with us, and are so grateful to big Sophia for helping us today. She stayed with us at the civil affairs office while we signed some paperwork and then came back to our hotel with us to help get little Sophia more comfortable with us. We definitely saw a lot of tears, but once she got comfortable, we got to see her laughing a bit and playing, which was just precious to see. Even after big Sophia left, she talked and played with us for about another 30 or 40 minutes before she started getting very sad. We could tell she was trying hard to be brave, but the tears did come and it was heartbreaking. She has a cold and seems to have a bit of a fever right now, so we went ahead and put her in her pajamas and got her ready for bed. She went to sleep almost immediately, and we're praying for a good night's sleep for everyone. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but we know it will all be OK - She's ours and that's all that matters!

I know it's rotten of me, but I'm just too tired to upload pictures tonight. I promise I'll work on it tomorrow as soon as I have a chance. She is absolutely adorable and I can't wait for you all to see her!

Olivia, Jackson and Elijah, you are going to LOVE playing with your little sister - she is so funny!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beijing... Day Two

Today has been another amazing day! We've really enjoyed our two days in Beijing and are so glad we chose to come early to get to spend some time here. We started off our day meeting up with another WACAP family who will also be adopting a child from Xi'an. Since we're with the same agency, we shared a guide and driver for today's touring. We enjoyed getting to know Michelle and her sister, Mary, (Michelle's husband stayed home to take care of their other two children) and since we'll be staying at the same hotels in Xi'an and Guangzhou, it was fun to spend a day with them before we get our girls. (Which, by the way, is tomorrow!!)

Our first stop was to the jade factory. It's owned by the Chinese government and was quite interesting to tour. There is a lot of tradition involving jade and it's a big business here. One of the traditions is for the husband's mother to give his new wife her jade bracelet and they are passed down from generation to generation. (Our guide has one, but thinks it's ugly and would love to get a new one, but can't because her soon to be mother-in-law would get pretty ticked off over that!) Rodney chose one for me that I'll keep until Sophia gets married and then I'll pass it on to her. It was completely overwhelming to even try to narrow it down to one bracelet, so I'm glad he took charge and picked one out. We'd probably still be there if I had to do it! That place was huge!

This woman carved Sophia's name in Chinese and English on the bottom of a small jade stamp for us.

Rodney thinks he found his twin.


After that, we headed to the Great Wall. WOW. Can I just say that again? WOW!!!!! One of the seven wonders of the world and we climbed it today! Pictures can say so much more than words, so I'm going to post several for you. It was beautiful and amazing... and freezing. Today was very windy and although it was sunny, we were freezing our patookies off! Once we got going though, it was such hard working climbing that I ended up taking off my hat and scarf and still being too hot. I think the climb down was even harder than the climb up, but it was so worth it!

View from the part of the wall we climbed, looking out across at another part of the wall.

Steep. Very, very steep.

Almost looks like they're running... they weren't.

Did I mention it was steep???
You can see the part of the wall that we climbed behind us in this picture.

Last but not least, care for an espresso anyone? Hopefully, not to be confused with the toilet!

We then went to the Cloissonne Factory. Cloissonne if French for enamel and it's where they make all kinds of beautiful vases, jewelry, trinkets, etc. First, they took us thru and showed us how it's done (I'll never look at an enamel vase the same way again!) and then took us to this massively huge room hoping we would buy things. Honestly, it was just too overwhelming and I didn't end up buying anything, although it was all very beautiful.

Madeline, standing in front of a vase that took over a year to make. We decided not to buy it.

  On our way back to the hotel, our driver took us by a very famous landmark. Anybody recognize this?
How very cool is this?

Madeline was konked out by 7:30 tonight. I would worry that she wouldn't sleep thru the night, but we have to be up at 4:30 am to start our journey to Xi'an. We are so excited and can hardly wait to meet little Sophia tomorrow afternoon! PLEASE keep us in your prayers. We'll post again as soon as we're able... with pictures of our new daughter!

Till next time,

Friday, November 26, 2010

We're in China!

I can hardly even believe we're actually in China! Our trip here went really smoothly. If any of my adoption friends are reading this and still need to look into what airline to fly, I definitely recommend Hainan Air. Great service, very comfortable seats (for an airplane, that is), the food was fine and I actually thought they served us too much, too often! Our flight happened to only be about 1/2 full, so there was room to stretch out a bit, which we all very much appreciated.

Today has been an amazing day. We started our tour at Tienanmen Square and let me just say, it's huge. HUGE. From there we went across the road into the Forbidden City. Which is also HUGE. Everything in China has a meaning and it's been fascinating to learn more about the Chinese culture and explore parts of Beijing that I've heard about for years, but never really knew what they were. The Forbidden City was built in the early 1400's for the Emperor and his family (oh, and his 3000 concubines) and was enormous. Very interesting.

In front of one of the six palaces at the Forbidden City.

Feeling claustrophobic yet?

Just before leaving the Forbidden City.

We went all the way up to that cool looking building at the top of the picture.
When we finished there, our guide took us to a Chinese restaurant, helped us order lunch and ate with us so we could visit with her more. It was so good! The staff was very friendly... actually, a little too friendly. One of the servers came over and picked up one of Rodney's papers he had set down on the table and started trying to read it and asked him what it was! It was just his cheat-sheet for converting money, but still, Madeline laughed out loud and it still didn't bother him a bit. Many people seem very interested in us for some reason (honestly, why????) and I've already lost count of how many people have asked to have their pictures taken with either Madeline or myself. Makes me laugh, but it's fun, so we do it and smile!
Yes Olivia, those are sprinkles on shrimp and it wasn't even dessert!
After that, we went on a tour of the Hutong. Again, I had no idea what that was and it was very, very interesting. We went in Rickshaws and had the opportunity to go into the home of an elderly couple who live there. The man had lived there since he was born and he was the 3rd generation to live there. It was very small, but we had tea with him and had a chance to learn some things about the Hutong area from our guide while we were there. I can't even imagine living in an area like that, and find it so amazing that it's actually very expensive to live in the Hutong because it's so near the Forbidden City and the center of Beijing.

Totally posed, can you tell?

Our guide explaining all the things you can tell about a family's gate. All doors are not the same!

Our BMW's for the Hutong Tour

Yes, we actually went in that door. (Scary looking, huh?!!)

Having tea with our new friend in his living room.

We then headed to the Silk Factory. Can I just say I did NOT know that's how silk was made? I won't say exactly what I thought, but let's just say the way spider's make webs is NOT the way silk is made. Gracious me. I had to come all the way to China to learn that.

Lastly, we went to the Flying Acrobat Show. It was phenomenal. Absolutely insane what those people do! We really enjoyed it and are so glad we got to go, even though we're all fighting the sleepies and had already had a full day, so sitting still in a dark room was a bit of a challenge, but oh so entertaining! The funny thing is, Rodney and I both said, "We could see Jack doing that kind of thing." He would have loved it!

Yes, he landed perfectly. What an amazing show!
That's it for tonight. I'm posting lost of pictures for my kids at home to see. I hope you enjoy them too!

Till next time,

Olivia, Jackson and Elijah, we love you so much and miss you already. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa's house!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Here we go!

I can hardly believe the time has finally come for us to bring our little Sophia home. Rodney, Madeline and I will be leaving in the morning to head to China - our bags are packed and by the door, Tami and Liz are ready to take over here with the kids, everything is pretty much coming together and all that's left is to get on the plane and get there!

In case you're interested, here's an abbreviated version of our daily itinerary between and when we return on December 10th.

In-China Itinerary for the Blunt Family

11/25 Arrive in Beijing at 4:35 pm. Met and escorted to the Trader’s Hotel by your guide.

11/26 Sight-seeing in Beijing: Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Hutong Tour.

11/27 Sight-seeing in Beijing: Great Wall

11/28 Fly to Xi’an at 7:45 am. Escorted to the Sofitel hotel by your guide.

Go to the Civil Affairs Office to pick up Hong Mei in the afternoon.

11/29-11/30 Adoption processing.

12/01 Sight-seeing in Xi’an. (Terracotta Warriors Museum)

12/02 Sight-seeing and visit to Starfish Foster Home.

12/03 Pick up child’s passport. Fly to Guangzhou at 3:30 pm. Met and escorted to the Garden Hotel by your guide.

12/04 Medical examination for the child.

12/05 Sight-seeing in Guangzhou.

12/06 Visa interview with the U.S Consulate at 9:30 am. Go to the American Consulate to take an oath in the afternoon.

12/07 Sight-seeing in Guangzhou.

12/08 Go to the consulate to pick up child's visa in the afternoon.

12/09 Free day.

12/10 Fly to Beijing at 8:30 am then transfer to Seattle flight (5 hour layover). Arrive in Seattle at 11:00 am and then HOME SWEET HOME!!!
We covet your prayers, both for us and for our children staying here. We pray that God keeps us all safe and healthy and brings our family back together soon!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our plans are coming together!

The past two days have been crazy busy, but so exciting! We heard from our agency early yesterday morning that the consulate had approved our first requested choice of dates for our appointment with them, which will be on 12/6. That means we're leaving in ONE WEEK!!!! We were able to get our flights booked yesterday and our travel itinerary is being prepared for us. It's all so very exciting - we'll have little Sophia in just 11 more days!

To add to our level of excitement, Rodney called me yesterday morning and said, "What would you think about taking Madeline with us?" YIKES!!! Maddie is our 16 year old daughter and I've wanted to take her all along, but we thought it made more sense to have her stay here with the other kids, not miss school, music performances, etc.... but you only live once and this is the chance of a lifetime, so she's coming with us! And yes, that took some scrambling to get her visa application/passport in the mail to the Chinese consulate in L.A. so that we should get it back next Monday. (Please God, don't let UPS lose it!!!)

Keep us in your prayers - we appreciate them so much!

Till next time,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Travel Approval - Finally!!!

Today was an amazing day! After what seems like weeks, the CCAA finally released a TON of travel approvals and the adoption forum that I'm part of went crazy with announcements! It was so great to see so many people getting the final approval needed to go get their kiddoes! Our caseworker called around 2:30 to let us know they had received ours via DHL and you should have seen the party going on around here!!!

We still have to wait to hear when our appointment at the consulate in Guanzhou will be. The process works like this: once you receive your TA, you adoption agency faxes over your top 5 requested dates to the consulate's office. Because visas take three days to process, CA's are only given on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, so that families can be done by Friday at the latest and can fly home without having to stay in China over the weekend. If we get a CA on either Dec 6th, 7th, or 8th, then we'll be leaving next Wednesday for a Gotcha Day of 11/28!!!!!! If not, then we'll leave the following Wednesday.


More details to come when I actually have some. Until then, please continue to keep us in your prayers - specifically that God will continue to prepare little Sophia's heart to come to us without being too scared. He is so good and I know He is able!

Till next time,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Be Still and Know...

A few months ago, a friend of mine told a mutual acquaintance that we were adopting a little girl from China. Her response? “Oh, you do things the easy way – you just go and pick them up!” Uh…. Yea. The easy way.

I will pat myself on the back while telling you that I just smiled at her and refrained from giving her many, many reasons as to why there is NOTHING easy about it. With that said, I’m pretty much a mess right now, but trying hard to hold it together. I mean, they have to issue us our Travel Approval eventually, right???? We have been hoping for months now that we would have it in time to fly out the day before Thanksgiving. If it doesn’t come by next Monday or Tuesday, that’s not going to happen. At that point, we’ll travel as soon as possible once we get our TA, but our nice, neat little plans that we’ve been counting on for months are going to start getting messed up. I hate it when that happens.

Tuesday, I was praying and talking to God about this whole TA delay thing (well, more like begging…) and I had a verse very clearly come to mind as I was praying. It was, “Be still and know that I am God.” I thought of that verse many times through out the day and tried hard to not worry about our TA.

Wednesday, my dear friend Jacqueline stopped by to pick up Madeline for class and as she was backing out she stopped and said, “Oh Karee! I have something to tell you! I was praying about your travel approval situation this morning and I felt very strongly that God wanted me to tell you this… Be Still and Know that I am God.”

OK God. You’ve got my attention. I will try again today… as many times as needed, to let it go. I know it will happen eventually and we WILL get our sweet girl home with us. It may not work out as perfectly as I had hoped – Tami and Liz may not get to come stay with the kids while we’re gone… little Sophia might have to make the move with all the other Starfish babies to their new home before we’re able to get there for our Gotcha Day… she may turn 2 on Christmas Day in China instead of at HOME celebrating with her family… But I do know that we WILL get her. Eventually.

For now, I will try to Be Still. Because He is God. And I know He’s got this.

Till Next time,

Psalms 46:10 Be Still and Know that I Am God.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Monday will be three weeks since we started waiting for our Travel Approval to arrive. So far... NOTHING. I thought the 62 day wait for our Letter of Approval was hard, but THIS is a killer. Knowing it could/should be coming any day and as soon as it does we can start making our final plans to leave is truly an emotional roller coaster; start the day hopeful (UP), then as the day goes by and there's no word from our caseworker, it starts to become clear it won't be this day either (DOWN). Sigh.....

On a humorous note, my dear friend Jacqueline sent me a message today to tell me she had figured out our route using Google Earth. Just type in United States to China. It's so good to know that it will only take me 38 days, three hours and 11,331 miles to get there, but indeed the best part is knowing I'm supposed to KAYAK 3879 miles across the Pacific Ocean!!!! Too funny!

Big Sophia is so good to bless us with pictures and updates of little Sophia each week. Here are a few recent ones:

Is she PRECIOUS or what???

Till next time,