Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Esty's Emergency

I had this entire post typed out...and it vanished. Gone.


So, it went something like this:

It's been a while since I've posted...because we've been consumed with Esty's medical emergency.

If you don't follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you may not know, but it's been pretty intense around here.

Sweet girl came to us sick. But we didn't know it.

She had plenty of energy in the beginning...and ran fevers in the afternoon.

We thought it was from the change of everything. We gave her Tylenol and continued to deal with our incredible learning curve with Spina Bifiida and incontinence.

Soon, it dawned on us that perhaps something isn't right. 

We got our hands on some Bactrim and began treating what we believed to be a UTI. 

Friday when we flew from Beijing to Guangzhou, she was silent. She refused to eat. Wouldn't drink. Wouldn't speak when spoken to. No more smiles. 

We had packed up everything she knew to this point and were leaving her place of birth. We thought for sure this was simply her emotional response to her mega life changes. 

But then the fever. And she vomited.

Saturday morning we went to the consulate medical appointment. We explained to the doctor what we had been observing, and showed the medicine we had given her. She immediately advised we take her to the doctor and begin intravenous antibiotics. 

My heart flipped.

We were pushed to the head of the lines to see the various doctors and whisked out of the consulate building and taken to the International hospital. 

It was a Saturday, but we were so graciously seen immediately by a very kind doctor who had his training in the States. He ordered a series of tests and after an examination he told us she had a very serious kidney infection and needed immediate IV treatment to stop any kidney damage.

Again, within minutes they had us in a private room and began the infusion of medicine.

So for the next 5 days we would daily sit in that room, awaiting results of blood and urine tests...praying that maybe NOW she was better.

You see, we almost lost our Esty.

The doctor told me after we had her going on the IV drip just HOW serious her infection was.

"This is VERY serious. It is fatal in a few days."


Yes, she had gone septic.

And I saw her Adopt Shoppe necklace, "She knew she was here for such a time as this..." What IF we hadn't gotten our travel approval when we did? What IF we weren't here for her now?

This kidney infection had been in the works for a while. Oh. I cannot even go there.

So graciously the doctor allowed us to take her home to our hotel rather than admit her to the local Chinese hospital. "You'll be more comfortable there, I think." 

So we returned daily for more blood draws, more urine tests, more IV drips. 

And she took it like a champion. Never a tear. Never a side glance of fear. Handing over her arm for more.

Incredible. Every doctor and nurse we met in our time commented on what an incredible child she is!!

Finally on the 3rd day, when we got news that some numbers actually got worse, I saw that strong bottom lip quiver. And her arm went up over her face.

By the 5th attempt to get the IV started I actually heard an audible whimper. 

Poor girl.

So so so strong.

And so at the end of herself. And then her eyes began to swell shut. Craziness.

Day 4 we got the news that she had drank sufficient water that she could just have a shot in the hip rather than the 3 hour IV drip. I have never seen a child so happy to get an injection before! And this one was a DOOZY...but of course, she took it without even a wince. 

And finally on day 5 we got our "walking papers" and were able to leave with only oral medicine!!!

What happiness!!!!

I have wondered HOW MUCH to say...and have decided that this is important for others to know that:
1) God is ALWAYS faithful, carrying us when we are afraid, in scary circumstances, a world away from home and that He rescues;
2) Spina bifida kids have complications...but nothing is too much when God has called you to them!
3) God has used this to build the bond between us...she had begun to favor Brian over me and almost push me away...(it's a common way of grieving the loss of a female caregiver) but this has cemented our hearts together as I never left her side and handled some pretty intense moments together. 

Other details will not be shared publicly but please know that if you are considering the adoption of one of these precious SB kids, I am always available to talk, listen, answer questions and encourage you in your journey. I long to hear that because of our story other children are finding families!!

I am loading this from Hong we have her passport and US visa and are on our way to becoming a family of nine! She will become a US citizen when we land in America!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day 2 with Esty

Yesterday we entered day 2. With older child adoption, you have no way to know what's going on behind those eyes...but she continues to smile, respond when I speak to her in Mandarin and go with the flow.

We had a wonderful breakfast in our hotel together. She chose very Chinese things to eat: corn on the cob, tomatoes, cucumbers, a bean steamed bun and yogurt. :)

This was the day for touring around the city. What a fun fun time we had!

We bundled up for a cold day and were so blessed to be taken to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City with a fabulous guide, David. He learned English from an American and was so incredibly kind to our kids. He not only explained things to us in our language, but he took the time and effort to explain them all over again to Esty in Mandarin.
It was truly incredible to be at such a momentous place in history. When we walked onto the square, I got goosebumps. Seeing the army just made it all the more fabulous.

Take a look at this enormous image of's almost 2 stories high!

It has been so fun to watch Oliver and Esty begin to bond. He enjoys pushing her in her wheelchair. She enjoys giggling.

We then entered the Forbidden City and learned TONS about emperors and how things rolled here for 3,000 years before Mao took over. It was sad to realize that Esty had not learned the order of dynasties as any typical Chinese student would...when you don't get to go to school, no one teaches you.


This place as 9,999 rooms! If you chose to sleep in one room every night starting when you were born, it would take you 27 years to do it! There are some fascinating details about why 9's are important in China. 

The buildings went on and on and on. Oliver got overly cold so we rushed through the end of the tour.

Many rooms still had the thrones and beds and items from when emperors lived here. Esty couldn't see anything from her chair, so Daddy carried her around! She liked that!

Several times in history a VERY young emperor would come into power. As in like 3 years old! Seeing as a 3 year old would probably not make wise choices for a country, his reign was actually run by his mother. "Dragon Lady" is how she is referred to and it was her "Summer Palace" that we toured on Sunday before we got Esty. Her summer home was truly astounding. I won't go into all the details, but if I'd be blown away. I do believe these emperors would NOT be the kind of people you'd like to share a cup of tea with! YIKES! But seriously, if you ever get a chance to see China, be sure and soak up some of this incredible culture! ESPECIALLY if you are adopting a Chinese want them to know where they came from and their fabulously rich history!

After seeing these two sites, we went for some PULLED NOODLES!!!! (Oh, how we have missed them!)

And...after much coercing...Oliver finally tried some! :)

Then we went to Hutown. This is basically 200-300 year old homes near the center of the city. It's prime property because the meridian passes through it and this adds to its value. What's so fun is that to see it, you ride in rickshaws!

Probably the most fun we had was inside of a man's home...he had these two birds (forgive me, i forget their type) who could speak perfectly clear Mandarin in a man's voice. They made us laugh so hard! "Ni hao!" "Ni chi de ma?" "Ni hao ma?" and "Bye bye!" were all in their vocabulary. I can guarantee you that Esty and Oliver had never met a bird like them!

Aren't they sweet...bonding like this!

We've had plenty of time to just hang out together in our room as well. These two have done puzzles, taught each other how to make origami boats (Esty) and paper airplanes (Oliver).

Esty can crawl around like there's no tomorrow and she was hanging out in the sunshine in the window when behold, I appeared with the camera. She enjoyed making some fun faces. While she isn't saying much yet, her gigles and now her silly faces are beginning to show her fun personality!!

(And OH MY! I want to share: Esty is such a girlie girl! I was putting on my earrings for the day and she looked through my jewelry bag. "Give me one," she said. I was THRILLED to have the Adopt Shoppe necklace that has the verse from Esther 4:14 on it...which is why we have named her Esther! I gave it to her and she loved it! You can see she wore it all day long.)

Life is pretty good. 

We so appreciate all your prayers and ask for you to continue. Yesterday I explained that today (Wednesday) we will finalize her adoption. I asked if she wanted to do that. "Yes," she replied. "Do you want to go to America?" Yes again. I told her every Friday night for dinner I make pizza, did she still want to go to America? No answer. ;) (She won't touch pizza with a 10 foot pole!)

We have some prayer needs for her physical health too...would you please lift these up for us?

Thank you and blessings!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

We've Got Esty!!!!

It's 4 am.

I'm in sweatpants with dark circles under my eyes, sitting in the hotel lobby so I can have access to the internet.

Workers are sculpting away at Chinese New Year decorations.

And my little one sleeps upstairs in our room.

How incredible.

Yesterday our day began early, at 6:30 am we met our guide down here to head over to her orphanage.

After a 30 min drive on easy roads, we arrived in the dark.

Our hearts were full of anticipation.

I could see a little ponytailed girl silhouetted in a 4th floor window looking down. What was she thinking? Did she know Lang Han Han was getting adopted today?

We were taken into a large conference room and the heat was turned up.

We spent a good hour signing paperwork and attempting to calm our nerves.

"They are going to bring her now," they said.

We waited for what felt like the entire 10 months of this adoption for her to come through those doors.

Oliver was ready with the video, Brian with the camera.

Then, the doors finally opened.

And in rolled our Esty.

She had a pink knit hat on and desperately reminded me of a little grandmother.

I went to her and said just what I did in a dream I'd had months before, "Ni hao, wo shi mama." ("Hello, I am your mother.")

She smiled.

I took her hands. They were soft and warm. We grinned at each other. I probably said more silly stuff to her in Chinese but I can't remember now.

She then looked for her Daddy. "This is your Daddy, Han Han," I said. 

And then Oliver came over.

They shook hands and a kind smile filled her face.

Immediately then the orphanage director who was so very kind and filled with smiles and kindness herself, began presenting Esty with gifts.

"She has taken the tea service class, and done well," she said. "We are giving her these gifts so she can go to America and open a tea house. Tea service is very lucrative for someone with her differences."

I didn't know how to break it to them that she's going to be a doctor. ;)

The gifts came. And came. And came. (We are going to need an extra suitcase for her tea business!!)

We asked our guide once we left if this is common for an orphanage to lay gifts before a child like this on Gotcha day. "Not too popular," she said. I can't imagine they could do this often!!

So, I surmised that our sweet Esty is WELL LOVED.

Multiple nannies described her as "a big girl" before we met, which confused me because her measurements were so small...but they clarified for me, "She has such a big heart."

Oh yes. My Esty.

After some pictures, we loaded into the van. I held Esty on my lap just in awe that we are together! 

She began calling out ot the orphange women, "Bye bye! Bye bye!" (in English!) and waving and grinning. She did not seem at all to be nervous about leaving with us.

{I just have to pause and say what you are probably thinking too---how is this een possible? How can a 10 year old orphan be so pleasant, kind and wave bye bye to her life and snuggle down into my lap? I  have no answer for you. Only that this is because of prayer.}

We began a long drive then through Beijing. Stop and go. Stop and go. Horns honking. Smog rising. 

We were began by looking through the photo album we'd sent and working on all her siblings' names. But then I began to feel car sick, so I stopped.

She went very quiet and I noticed sweat forming on the bridge of her nose. Then, she began looking more and more white.

"Wo yao tu!" (this is a sentence that caused much alarm as we all began dumping tea service items out of a bag so we didn't have vomit all over the van!)

Eventually, she did. Poor thing. But I held her close, rubbed her back, cleaned her up.

Oh how many times has she had to do that without a mother to care for her?

Eventually we made it to the photo studio. We took a picture of Brian, me and Han Han for the adoption registry.

Then onto the Civil Affairs office where we were quite late for our appointment.

This took another hour perhaps, all the while she was happy to just sit with us and wait. Oliver was a rock star during all of this too. I have even heard him begin to repeat Mandarin phrases and put things together and say, "Oh I know how to say __________!" It's so fun to see! Later in the day he spoke to a father and child, "Ni hao!" I was literally beaming.

We answered the woman's questions for the official paperwork. Why had we come to China  to adopt? Would we promise to never hurt or abandon her? Did we fully understand the things wrong with her physical condition?

We signed our names with black ink, sealing it all with a red fingerprint atop our signatures. (Americans should really start doing this. It's so cool.)

Then, it was Esty's turn. I didn't realize, but after age 10, the child being adopted needs to write a sentence in characters that says, "I want to be adopted." It took her about 3 full minutes to copy our guide's example sentence. (Esty has never been to school because China is not wheelchair accessible.)

Then came her name in characters and her own little red fingerprint.

She was sitting in her new daddy's lap and looked up at me with a smile that melted me. 

She wants this. How totally incredible.

Then it was time for some lunch. Our guide asks her what she would like to eat. She can have ANYTHING at all...and what does she ask for????

KFC. Seriously.

I was dumbfounded.

We wisely decided to return to the hotel and have it delivered to avoid more motion sickness. Brian and I had baozis off the street while Esty and Olly sat there dipping their nuggets into sauce. The irony was not lost on me.

The rest of the day was spent getting to know one another. We went for a long walk, bought her a pair of boots and eventually snuggled her and endured multiple episodes of Xiao Lan (a popular cartoon about a sheep.)

She and Oliver played iPad games together.

After noodles and a bath, we were snuggling down in the bed covers and I began to read to her from the Jesus Storybook Bible.

{Get this Bible for your kids. So amazing.}

I had an arm around her and read in English. I'd already asked her if she knew who Jesus was or God and she said "Wo bu zhi dao," (I don't know.)


I started at the beginning. Before the story of creation, the book gives an overview of what the Bible is about.

As I read the words to her about being loved by a God who rescues, I was in awe. Then I read the words aloud, "The Bible is most of all a Story. A story about a young Hero who leaves his far country to win back His lost treasure."

And I lost it.

What was I doing but just what Jesus has done for me? I left my own far away country and was now snuggled down with a former orphan who was so precious to Jesus that He sent me to be His hands and feet to her.

What a priviledge.

What an honor.

What pressure to get it right!! {But there is grace. Abundant grace. We who parent know we do NOT get it right, but forgiveness and love and new starts are the language we speak.}

We held her in our arms and prayed for her. We nestled her down in the white down comforter and made sure she had all she needed. 

She immediately slept.

And so, was day one with our Esty.


Special notes: 

She was at one point running a fever of 102. Please pray for her. I gave her Tylenol and checked on her during the night and it seems to be gone, but we want to obviously be careful.

Oliver was running and pushing her in the wheelchair/stroller and she was giggling for the first time. It was a glorious sound!!

Her physical condition is both encouraging and alarming to me at the same time. Her back is very contorted, which is not noticeable as long as she is seated. I had her up on her legs and I am guessing she has a very serious case of scoliosis. The good news is that she has a LOT of movement in her legs. She can cross and uncross them while seated! She has feeling down to both knees. Below her knees her legs are icy cold and like rubber. She has no strength in her ankles whatsoever and cannot stand on her feet in the usual way. I fully believe she will walk, but there will be AFO's, arm crutches and possible back surgery in her future. Please pray for all of this that is coming. By the way, I asked her if she'd like to walk and her face lit up and she nodded! 

Once again, I am saying THANK YOU to everyone who partnered with us to pay the crazy costs of adoption. We did not have $30,000 extra sitting around, (especially on the heels of Toby's adoption!) but through fundraising, love gifts and grants, we are here and she is ours. Her future is open wide before her. YOU did this. Please know that we are so deeply grateful for the chance to become her parents and love her to Jesus because YOU helped make this possible.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Little Something to Tide You Over...

So as you wait for our Gotcha Day with us...I thought you might enjoy a little video of  Esty from two years ago!!
Just use the password: esty2

esty 2 from Lifeline Children's Services on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's Time.

It's time.

Time to zip up our bags, check that we have passports and get on a plane!!!

In FOUR DAYS we get Esty!!!!

I will do my very best to "take you" with us!

Thank you for going with us on this journey---we could have never gotten to TODAY without your sacrificial giving and your beautiful love for orphans.

Please PRAY with us about the following concerns:

1) Safe travel. This is a common request, but I'm really concerned we will have trouble leaving our little frozen town! We've been experiencing sub-zero arctic temperatures and have too much snow on the ground to even estimate. Our schools have not reopened since Christmas vacation and cancelled once again for today. Roads are ICY. We have a 3 hour trip to the airport.

2) Health. Another obvious one…but last time we travelled home from China we were all vomiting! Please pray for us to avoid illness. We know Beijing is smoggy so we have lots of meds with us, but please pray for us.

3) Esty's heart. Sweet girl has been needing a family her whole life. It kills me. Monday, she gets one. Although this is incredibly exciting for US…she is going to lose EVERYTHING she has ever known. We expect a lot of grieving on her part and will help her through that the best we can. Your prayer support will be critical.

4) Our orphanage visit. Later next week, we will return to Esty's orphanage. This will obviously stir up many emotions for everyone. Pray that she can say good goodbyes and that we will be able to advocate for other waiting children whom we will meet. 

5) Oliver's experience. This trip will be Olly's first commercial flight. He has never experienced anything other than his American culture, and having lived in China ourselves, we have no intention of hiding out in American fast food joints. We will try to be sensitive to him but really want to "show him the world" and we hope that he's game!

6) Our children back home. It's not easy for them AT ALL to have us gone from them. Their sweet lives carry on with some amazing family and friends caring for them, but it's not the same as having Momma and Daddy. Please pray that the time will be delightful for each of them and will pass quickly. Also that we will have solid internet connections so we can Skype with each one!

7) Spiritual protection. We have an enemy and he HATES adoption. We are not scared of him, but we know that he's a mean fighter. Please strengthen us in your prayers. 

Can't wait to show you pictures of us on Gotcha Day!!! EEEK!!!! It's about to happen!!!!

THANK YOU once again for your partnership!!! We love you!

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Friday, January 3, 2014

In Awe…it's DONE!

There have been now THREE times in my life that I have been stunned that something MAJOR is now over.

A time when my ENTIRE LIFE was focused around a HUGE life event full of details and hard work and then…it was simply DONE.

The realization comes as a SHOCK to me. A total awe-inspiring moment when I simple realize:

On our honeymoon--17 yrs ago!

The FIRST was when we were sitting on the beach on our honeymoon.

Brian put his arms around me and whispered in my ear: "All that wedding planning…it's DONE."

And I sucked in a breath of shock!


We were married! And on the beach! YIPPIE!!!

The SECOND was when our 2nd child was born.

Anneli 1 day old! 
With my first baby, dear Jensi, I had a RIDICULOUSLY LONG labor-- 39 HOURS!!! I had to push for over 2 hours and finally they used the vacuum thingee. (oh the memories! wince!! cringe!!)

So when Anneli was born after a short time in the hospital (like less than an hour!) and she was OUT in ONE PUSH I was totally in awe.

Birthing my child was ALL DONE. 

ALL DONE!!!!! She was here!!!

And now I am having my THIRD experience like this.

We just got our in country bill for Esty's adoption. 

It was large.

And I expected it to be.

And…our grants cover it IN FULL.

I do not have to run out to various banks and wire money…in the snow. (I did this for Toby's adoption.)

I'm sitting here in my robe with my coffee and am just so in AWE.

It's DONE!! No more fundraising!!! 


We are FULLY FUNDED, and seriously ALL that is left is to get on a plane and bring her home!!!!

Esty…smiling big! We are coming for her and she knows it!!

Sweet Esty, here we come!!!!

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