A Place of Many Intersections

•March 21, 2012 • 8 Comments

China, the place where East Meets West—and the place where I first met my daughter. This reality has dominated the landscape of my life for the better part of a week now and for good reason. Let me explain what I mean by this. I’m a history buff…and those of you who know me…know that. I must admit, visiting Asia has long been on my bucket list…so to come here and get my daughter really is a double blessing for me.

 

To date, I have stood on the soil of 5 of the world’s 7 continents. All of them have amazed me in different ways. While in London I marveled at the fact that you could still touch crater holes in buildings made by German V2 rockets during WWII. In the African bush I was mesmerized when I sat just feet away from wild Lions in the safety of my Safari jeep. Both times when I traveled to Brazil I remembered thinking how much I adored the people of that country…there was just something about them that made me love them. Of course, I would be amiss if I did not least mention my home continent of North America. I have made my life in the US and am proud to call it home.

 

All that being said, I have personally wanted to see China for a long time. I mean…for a person who loves history this place is the equivalent of setting a sugar addict free in a candy store. For example, today Carin, Mia, and myself were able to tour the Yellow Crane Tower in the city of Wuhan, which is located in Hubei Province. In case you’re wondering, Wuhan was the birthplace of the uprising that officially ended the China Dynasties and paved the way for the modern China that exists today. So here I stood in this tower which bleeds antiquity…yet is totally surrounded by skyscrapers, huge housing developments, and all of the other amenities of the modern Western world.

 

It’s a paradox of sorts…yet has become the new face of China. What has most fascinated me about this place is that you can buy a Starbucks coffee and drink it while standing on the soil of a roughly 5000 year old civilization that has shaped much of the Eastern Hemisphere. I found that thought to be utterly amazing and grand on a scale I have never experienced before. China is the place where ancient meets modern…where East meets West…and as of Monday, March 19th…the place where I met Mia–Yi Qiu Rey (Yi-Cho-Ray) in case you’re wondering what they call her here.

 

 

As I was reflecting on the bigness of all of what I just mentioned…I couldn’t help but think that sitting in the middle of two Global Hemispheres…two historical epochs and all of this grandeur…is an underweight 30 lb.—2.5-year-old girl…who as of yesterday legally became my daughter.

 

This is the girl whom I have loved for the better part of 4 years…and who from her perspective-sees me as the guy she met a day ago. It’s obvious this is the case, she still recoils when I try to touch her and gets teary eyed when I’m too close. It’s heartbreaking, but I knew this would be the reality of our relationship until she starts to see me as Daddy—or Ba-Ba in the Chinese language.

 

So like China, I find myself standing at a major intersection in my life’s journey…the intersection of my daughter’s life. In the truest sense, I am part of the bridge between what life was like for her and what it is now about to become. It’s been a daily exercise of getting comfortable with being rejected in order to earn the love and trust of a little girl’s broken heart.

 

As her father, it’s a pain I must bear in order to help bring healing to her hurt heart. Consequently, it’s brought a whole new understanding of how my Heavenly Father has had to deal with me…which will be the subject of my next post. So keep praying for the bonding of our two hearts…which I deeply believe is the greatest history being written in China right now.

Gotcha Day Pictures

•March 20, 2012 • 5 Comments

Gotcha Day…March 19, 2012

•March 19, 2012 • 15 Comments

Yesterday was the big day for us. We woke up early and took a plane to Wuhan, China where we were going to get Mia. We had some free time till our appointment so Anthony and I braved the streets alone and went to McDonalds. I know that does not sound very brave but we had to walk quite a bit and cross some major intersections so that was all our stomachs could take that day since we were already so nervous for getting/meeting Mia. The McDonalds was very similar to the ones in the states except for the ketchup. I mean it was not Heinz. Then our time came to leave and go get Mia. (Oh, our translator for the next 5 days is a man named Grant. He is wonderful and he and his wife have been doing this for 10 years so he is very helpful and has great tips.) So we drove for about 20 mins to the Civil Affairs Office where someone from the orphanage would bring Mia to us. We were expecting to have to wait once we got there but when we opened the doors there she was with the social worker from the orphanage. (Here are my thoughts…Wait a minute I’m not ready. Oh my goodness is that her or am I going to go up and hug the wrong child? I feel sick. All of these thoughts went through my mind in a matter of seconds.) I sat down beside her and said hello. I offered her some toys and she said no. She just wanted to stay with the worker. Finally I picked her up she just screamed. I put her down and she ran away. At that point I am just wondering if I can do this. I gave her a few minutes and than held her again. I just tried to hug her and calm her down but she just kept saying “Mama, Mama” and I knew that she wasn’t referring to me. Finally, Anthony tried to hold her and she calmed down some but she never stopped asking for her Mama. He tried to give her to me and she reached back for him. So he held her the car ride back to the hotel. That ride was the longest ride of my life. She laid in his arms, so tired from her long day, and in the tiniest and saddest little voice you have ever heard kept saying “Mama, Mama” until she fell asleep. We brought her into the hotel and I knew I had two choices. I could let her bond only with Anthony, which a lot of adopted children bond with the dads first, or I could be the mom I knew I was. Being a mom means you love them even when they are breaking your heart. So I picked up the blanket I brought with me, put it around her to comfort her, and sat and rocked her till she finally fell back asleep. One huge victory that I needed. It reminded me of all the stuff I knew as a mom but was doubting. I could do this. And more than that she needed a mother right now since she just lost the only one she has ever known. God in that moment reminded me of His faithfulness to me and how he has equipt me for this job. He did not send me half way across the world to take on a job I was never meant to take on. So, after she woke up we tried to feed her in the room. We had steamed eggs and noodles. Nope she didn’t want either. So I said ok. You don’t have to eat. I did get her later on to drink 2 yogurt drinks and eat half of a banana. The funny thing was I tried to hand her back to Anthony so I could do something and she didn’t want to leave me. Yeah! She just might like me after all. But doing the best thing for her I made her go to him and she did just fine. But just like both of my other children once I was back in the room she wanted me. (Yeah, but don’t tell Ant.) The first person we introduced her to was her big brother. Aiden has been waiting so long to meet her and he is going to be the best big brother to her. They both saw each other over FaceTime but didn’t have too much to say. They just looked at each other. I am hoping that seeing each other everyday will help her once she goes home and has a familiar face. After that we had to do the wonderful brushing of the teeth. I knew she would hate it but I had to do what is best for her…I just had Nelly’s voice in my head telling me it is good for her. And if sweet Nelly can do it than so can I. And it was bad but we got through it. Then at 8pm I knew she was tired and ready for bed. I held her till she fell asleep and put her in a crib next to my bed. She opened her eyes when I put her in but never cried, I just patted her and she fell back asleep. As I type this it is 630am and she is still sleeping and never once moved or made a sound in the night. 

I will answer one of the questions people have about her foster mom. It is not allowed in China for the foster mom to come and meet the adoptive parents. In the past foster parents have contacted the adoptive parents in an inappropriate way. So we will never meet her. Norman, and Grant, say it is for the best. The only thing we can do is mail some pics and info of her to the orphanage and they have the choice to get them to the foster mother. Mia when she left also had a foster brother living with her. We also will not being going back to Yichang where she is from. It is a 4 hour bus ride and she got very car sick yesterday from the ride and threw up. I also feel it is not good to go back. It is best for her to just move her forward with her life. I have a photo album the sent me of her growing up so I do have pictures of her to show her. This agency we are here with also does trips for the families when the kids are older of China and their orphanage. So when she is 10 or 12 I would love to look into that for her if she is interested.

I never put a tip on my lost blog so here are 2.Tip # 1…You can’t have enough medicine. I thought I was crazy and told myself to stop packing so much. And of course once we got here Anthony needed some sudaphed and I didn’t have any and we can’t find any in China. So you really do need the whole medicine cabinet. Second, be prepared for the worst when meeting your child. You will want to give them what they want and just let them go back because you are hurting them…and then you have to grow up, put your big girl panties on, and be her/his mother. They are children they want to do all kinds of things that aren’t good for them..like run in the street. You have to not let their anger affect you because if you take it personally then you have lost and they have won (and we all know that kid who has won over their parent. The one that you don’t want to invite over to your house and is a brat,,,you don’t want that) So you shake it off and be the parent. The adoptive child will almost never pick you. You have chosen them. Even your own biological children that you have raised will often not chose you. DON’T TAKE THESE FIRST FEW DAYS PERSONALLY! IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU! It is about her grieving and losing her old life. Let the child grieve but be their parent.

Today is the day we officially adopt her. Yeah, this day is finally here. We can’t wait for you to meet her. Please keep praying for all of us Orzos.

Sunday March 18th 4:27pm…Very Long Day

•March 19, 2012 • 3 Comments

 

 

Well we’ve been up so long I can’t even remember the last time I got a good nights sleep…I think it was Wednesday. We arrived to Guangzhou, China at 535am after a 15-hour flight. It was so long but we have made it. China, at least Guangzhou, is totally different than I ever imagined. It is so modern. There is a new part they call “new Guangzhou” and it is so nice and clean. The buildings are so huge and it kind of reminds me of pictures of Dubai that I have seen. We have stayed up all day, even though it is our nighttime, and went to a really fun Dim Sum lunch. It was really nice and good food. Also, today we met our tour guides Norman and Martin. Norman runs an agency named USAA-US Asian Affairs. He and his team translate our papers, handle all the China paperwork, and are our translators and tour guides while in China. It is fabulous and when you travel with him you don’t have to worry about anything. It is like a vacation. Our group is very small-only 3 families. One family is from San Francisco. She is fully Chinese but was born in the US. She and her husband have traveled to China with her mother-who speaks Chinese-and their 2 ½ year old daughter (a great play mate for Mia.) The other couple are Chinese with no children-till today. They live part of the year in Hong Kong and the other part in San Francisco. Both families are very nice. We are so excited because we will travel tomorrow at 630am to Wuhan, China to get Mia. Tomorrow is actually her “Gotcha Day” and Tues. March 20th we will officially adopt her. So it is 435pm (435 am FL time) and I think it is time for bed. We can’t wait to meet our little girl. Please pray she will not be scared, feel my love, and not hate me for taking her from her foster mother. 

Journey to Mia-LAX (written per Carin)

•March 16, 2012 • 10 Comments

The Joys of LAX (Forgive any mistakes I am going on 36 hours of no sleep and I am not the writer in our family)

 

So today we woke up at 530am and got out the door at 615 with our kids and headed to Orlando to start our travel to China. We first dropped Aiden and Addie off at my sisters. Thankfully they did great when we left. NO ONE CRIED. NOT EVEN ME!!! Yeah. I think all of your encouragement and advice that I can’t have any mommy guilt-Kara- helped me to be strong. So onto our first flight to Nashville and then Nashville to LAX. We got into LAX at 230pm and won’t leave till 1130pm.

 

So for the real stories of our trip…and yes you can’t make this stuff up. First, I am sitting here in the middle of the international airport and a couple to the right of me is Chinese and they are here with their little girl. She is so cute and I CAN’T stop looking at her. I really must stop because I might end up scaring her. I can’t help but wonder what Mia looks like right now. Then, this guy next to me has his laptop out and is playing music so loud and everyone can hear it…there are no head phones. But that’s not the best part. HE KEEPS SINGING…(imagine with your best Asian accent)  “I can’t live, if living is without you.” I am biting my lip so I won’t laugh out loud. Good thing I am not here with one of my friends because it would be over. Oh here he goes with the air drums. Can you see it??? Oh, wait here comes a new song. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. “Put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger now he’s dead.” This can’t get any better. When I was walking around a little while ago I saw the most amazing site. Here walk in 10-15 Korean airline stewardess dressed to the nine. I felt like I was stepping back in time to the 60’s just with Asian women. Their hair was impeccable, dresses, scarves around their necks, and heals. Man this was no Southwest uniform. They looked amazing.

 

I would love to not only use this blog as a way to tell our story and journey but to provide some tips that I found useful in adoption or wish I had known. First tip I found SO helpful was to have a great bank and a good relationship with your bank. When you adopt-especially internationally-there is A LOT of money that comes and goes out of your account. You will be visiting your bank weekly even daily. I LOVE my bank, and not just because my mother in law works there, but because all of the women are so helpful and awesome to work with. They have helped us out so much with our money that it really would have been impossible to do if I was just a number. You will need a lot of help to adopt and having helpful staff at your bank is so important.

 

Please keep us in your prayers as we begin this amazing journey. OK, now he is singing “Shot through the heart and your to blame….”. 

A good time to start blogging again…

•March 14, 2012 • 3 Comments

Hey All.

So, it’s no secret I’m not a big fan of blogging. The frequency in which I update my blog is a sure tell as far as that goes, however I’ve been wanting to do better in this area for a while and think I finally found a good reason to give it a shot.

This Friday my wife and I leave for China to pick up my adopted daughter after almost four years of work. I’m stoked about this and believe it’s a story worth telling. So I’m going to be writing about our trip and a sharing some of where we’ve been on this long journey.

I hope you’ll give this a read and post some comments over these next weeks.

Talk to you soon!

A-

Join Restoration Church Port Orange for Christmas Eve at the Creek

•December 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Come join us at the Cracker Creek Pavilion in Port Orange for a time of Worship and Reading of the Christmas Narrative. This will be RCPO’s official Christmas worship service. Because of the portable nature of our church, we are unable to have a Worship Service on Sunday December 25th.

Get the details at http://www.restorationpo.com

 

 

Christmas Eve at the Creek

•December 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment


Come join us at the Cracker Creek Pavilion in Port Orange for a time of Worship and Reading of the Christmas Narrative. This will be RCPO’s official Christmas worship service. Because of the portable nature of our church, we are unable to have a Worship Service on Sunday December 25th.

Get the details at http://www.restorationpo.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

•November 24, 2011 • 1 Comment

 

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Black and Green Ball Tonight!

•November 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Just a reminder tonight’s the night!

Go to http://www.restorationpo.com for the details.

A-