May 26, 2010

Heading Home.

We are packing for our short flight to Hong Kong before leaving in the morning for San Francisco. We will arrive in Houston via United Airlines flight # 7602 from Denver at approximately 8:35pm on Friday, May 28th (George Bush, Terminal A). We would especially appreciate your prayers for the 12-hour flight to San Francisco.

See you all soon!

chris & amy

May 25, 2010

Red Couch Photos.

This afternoon our travel group got together for the traditional red couch photos here at the White Swan Hotel. All the babies and children get dressed up in their traditional Chinese clothes for a group shot. The children in our group range in age from 13 mos to 10 years, although I don't think the 10 year old ended up in the picture. He is a sweet boy who was adopted by a family from Alabama that we have enjoyed getting to know. Enjoy the photos. If you have trouble finding Ellie just look for the cutest kid in the picture : )

This morning we had our visa appointment for Ellie and all went well. We should receive her visa by Thursday evening and will be freed up to start the journey home! Tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday for us) we go to the US consulate to take the oath. We are SO excited to be just three days away from home!!!

May 24, 2010

Scrolls from China.

This morning we met a very dear man named Kenny. He is an artist here in China. He teaches art to orphans to brighten their lives as well as give them a potential skill to earn a living once they have to leave the orphanage, which happens between 14 or 16 years of age. He is here in Guangzhou displaying not only his work, but the work of his students, many of whom have limb differences. He is teaching one young man with no arms to paint with his feet....his work is amazing! He keeps track of the orphans/artists once they leave the orphanage, mentoring them as much as he can. We really enjoyed hearing the stories of many of his artists. An adoptive father who was here three years ago adopting his daughter met Kenny and now partners with him in the US to sell their work. They paint beautiful scrolls. He also partners with the Lily Orphan Care Center in Zhengzhou which is run by our agency, CCAI - Chinese Children Adopt International. His website is here if you want to take a look.

Here are some photos from his gallery, along with a few of Ellie throughout the day and finally a view from our hotel room on the 18th floor.

May 22, 2010

A Trip to the Guangzhou Clinic.

Amy posting again. We got into Guangzhou about 9:00pm last night. Ellie did great on her first plane ride! Only cried a little right before takeoff. Once we started down the runway she got a big grin on her face and seemed to be enjoying the ride. Of course this was only a 2 hour flight as opposed to the 12 hours when we head to San Francisco on Friday.

It is a busy day for adoptive families in Guangzhou. Because the US Consulate is located here, all adopting families, regardless of adopting province, have to pass through here. Our agency alone has 3 groups here right now at different stages in the process, but there are obviously many different agencies represented. Our hotel, The White Swan, caters to these families. It was fun to come down to breakfast and see so many American faces with their Chinese children...probably about 60 families just at this hotel.

After breakfast we walked to the clinic for her physical with our new guide Kathy. All the CCAI guides have been wonderful, and we are really enjoying getting to know them. She gave everyone of us a great big hug at the airport last night, saying " big very warm welcome to you". On the way to the clinic we stopped at a store to get her visa photo. The Clinic was crowded with a mixture of locals, adopting families, long lines and plenty of screaming kids who didn't want to be there. People smoke everywhere in China and the clinic was no exception. Since Beijing I think the two of us have smoked the equivalent of at least two cigarettes just by inhaling the second hand smoke. Ellie did great at the clinic. The doctor wanted to know what her SN was. When we told her severe malnourishment and delayed development she pointed to those chubby thighs and spoke Chinese. Our guide translated, "not anymore!" She gave her a good report and thought she was doing great developmentally. She asked if she could hold a pen, then realized Ellie had already grabbed her pen off her desk and was trying to pull her measuring tape from around her neck. After that she saw the ENT who gave her a very high-tech hearing test...she squeezed a squeaky toy by her ear and checked off the "hearing" box ; ) We got into another line for height and weight where she weighed in at 22 lbs.

Before we left Zhengzhou we were allowed to see all of her records, along with the original notice of abandonment ad that they place in the newspaper. This picture was difficult for both of us to see. We knew that she was severely malnourished when she was abandoned...reading about it is one thing, seeing it is another. God truly breathed new life into her, as she is not the same little girl. Thank you to everyone who sent emails! It was wonderful to wake up this morning and read your kind and encouraging words. We are feeling better now that we are on this last part of the trip and can see home in the distance. We miss Ethan, Hannah and Ben so much and are ready for them to be united with their sister.

One more note regarding Ellie's rash. The doctor thought it was probably a combination of heat rash and eczema -- but we already guessed that much.

Bye for now.

May 21, 2010

Last Day in Zhengzhou.

Hi all! Amy here...Chris is letting me post! Thus the longer wordier post : ) Today is our last day in Zhenghou. We said good bye to the capital of Ellie's home province by taking a stroll through the city park. The people here have been curious but very friendly. We get lots of intense stares but as soon as we smile and welcome them over for a look at Ellie they break out in smile and start chattering in Chinese. International Adoption is still very new in this province, only opening up in 2008. Our agency was the first to begin training the orphanages and promoting adoption. So the locals are still very curious about the process. One man at the museum yesterday who spoke pretty good English had many questions for us. He concluded by saying they had many children like Ellie in their province, and thanked us for taking care of her. We tried to explain to him that we were the ones who were blessed but he didn't seem to understand.
Each day we spend getting to know Ellie a little bit better. Her walking has improved just in the last two days. She will let go of our hands and walk a good few yards before falling down.She laughs, sings and occasionally pitches some pretty good fits : ) All in all a typical toddler. She likes to go and thinks anytime we change her clothes it must be time to leave the room.She still reaches out for Asian women and esp. our guide Yisha. The guides here say that the child will usually attach to only one parent while in china...they mystically refer to this parent as the "chosen one". When they asked us who the chosen one was, we told them Ellie has the "chosen many". Especially people who will hold her hand so she can walk around. We know once we are back home and settled we will eventually become the "chosen ones" and more importantly, Mom and Dad. Right now we are waiting on Ellie's passport and once we get that we will be able to fly to Guanzhou this afternoon where the US Consulate is located. This is the final leg of our journey!!! Tomorrow we will go to a clinic and have her physical in order to start processing her visa. We are glad to get to be able to see a doctor as she has broken out in a rash we would like to have them look at. We don't know if this is from a food allergy or what, but we have noticed that her fair skin is pretty sensitive. She has a mild case of eczema and after being out yesterday found that she sunburns really easily. Have we mentioned we are homesick? Please pray that this last week would go by quickly, and that we would also be found faithful to do all that He has called us to do while we are here. Thank you again for your faithful prayers, and to all who have sent emails...we love to get them as they ease our homesickness! BTW we cannot access our blog from here or see any comments you might post...a friend in Houston updates for us everyday.

May 19, 2010

Snickers and a Diet Coke.

We've been feeling quite homesick the past couple of days, especially now that Eliana is with us for good. We simply want to hop on a plane and return to our family and friends. Today's afternoon snack of a Snickers bar and a Diet Coke did the trick in helping us cope.

Today was a rest day. We were glad to see the sun shining for the first time since we've been here. It was very nice out and we decided to spend the morning close to home (so Eliana could keep her nap schedule) before heading out for the afternoon for a small grocery run. We walked about ten blocks or so and took in all the sights and sounds of Zhengzhou, complete with cars, mopeds, bicycles, trees, flowers and people. Lots of people. It is a very pretty city, even more so now that the cloudy weather has lifted. There does not appear to be near the amount of pollution here as in Beijing, evidenced by the blue sky overhead.

Tomorrow has a museum tour on the agenda before we begin preparations to head to our next destination south -- to Guangzhou, where we will remain for the next week as we finish our journey.

Eliie continues to make us smile, as she breaks into song on occasion with a book in her hand (as though she is singing from a hymnal). Her nights sleeping have been long and quiet -- at least 10 hours each night.

More later. Thanks for following our journey and for lifting us up in prayer.

May 18, 2010

It's Official!

This morning we officially (and legally) became the parents of Eliana ("Ellie") Hope Beach, formerly known as Qian Ying Ying. We took a bus ride over to the Registration Office and had some documents notarized and formalized. From there it was a short drive to another government building for more documentation. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we are actually free for the day and plan to rest and relax as much as possible with a 19-month old. Here are a few shots from last night and today.

May 17, 2010

Here She Is!

Praise God for His amazing grace toward our family. The day we've been waiting for is here. We welcomed Eliana Hope Beach into our family at approximately 11am today. As she was brought to Amy, she reached her arms out and embraced her. From that first moment, she did not cry or fuss. She engaged us directly and was as if she had always known us. She is bright and inquisitive, pointing and gesturing and babbling. The orphanage workers were very kind and returned all the items from the care package we sent a month ago. That included a family photo album we sent to get her acquainted with our faces. When we asked the workers about Eliana's personality (through an interpreter), they giggled and spoke in Chinese. Then our interpreter said, "Active. Very, very active". After signing some papers and having some official adoption photos taken, we played with her until it was time to get on the bus and head back to our hotel. She fell asleep just as we sat in our seats and slept all the way back. Even now, she is snoring a few feet from us in our room. She sounds a tad congested, but other than that, she appears fine. Still much to do over the coming days, but again, we thank you all for your continued prayers for our journey.

May 16, 2010

A Picture Says A Thousand Words.

We flew from Beijing this morning to Zhengzhou, the capitol of Henan province (the province where Eliana lives). When we arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, we walked into our room and were greeted by this picture...a wonderful reminder of things to come. By tomorrow evening, Lord willing, this crib will be occupied by our new daughter. Tomorrow morning at 10am (7pm Sunday night Houston time), the orphanage director will meet us at the Civil Affairs building in Zhengzhou with Eliana. We have the blankets grandma made in her crib. In addition, toys, bottles, and snacks are awaiting her arrival. We went to the local Walmart (yes, China has a Walmart -- but it's NOTHING like your neighborhood Walmart) this evening and stocked up in anticipation. Tomorrow will be quite busy but we will attempt to post pictures as soon as possible. Stay tuned!

We truly appreciate your prayers -- especially tomorrow.

May 15, 2010

Great Wall. Great Day.

We enjoyed another amazing day in Beijing. George, our guide from our adoption agency, took us to The Great Wall. Ethan, you would have loved this! We climbed for about an hour with well over a thousand other people (it was Saturday). Going up seemed to be a bit easier than coming down. It takes four hours to travel the particular section we were on, but we all did about half that. And that was more than enough! Later in the afternoon we stopped by the Bird's Nest -- Olympic Stadium.

Overall thoughts about Beijing...

The smog is real. Even though the sun was out, much of the day is hazy. In the evening it gets a bit better, but there is no doubt about the pollution. It really is a beautiful city, though, as the streets are lined with trees, parks and flowers all kept up with nicely. The crowds are constant. There is never a moment of the day that you feel quiet or alone. Traffic is horrendous, no matter the time. Our guide has a consistent answer whenever anyone asks how long to get to a destination. He says, "15 or 20 minutes...without traffic", then he chuckles (that means we know it'll take an hour and a half to two hours).

It has been good to tour Eliana's home country, but we are ready to meet her. We take another flight to head down to her province tomorrow, and will welcome her to our family Monday. Thank you so much for your continued prayers.

May 14, 2010

Touring Beijing.

Today we spent the entire day touring Tienanmen Square, The Forbidden City and finishing up with a crazy rickshaw ride in the inner city. We were with our large group of families (some adopting for the second and third time) and enjoyed getting to know them better. We have especially enjoyed our guide, George. He worked really hard keeping us all in line and moving us through crowds of thousands and thousands of people, and treated us to a great lunch of traditional Chinese cuisine deep in the heart of the city.

Countdown to Eliana Hope is now T-minus three days!

May 13, 2010

Our Arrival.

After a very long but smooth flight, we finally arrived in Beijing. We jumped ahead 15 hours in the process, so our bodies are a bit weary. First order of business: Sleep.

We were thrilled that not only did we meet a woman from our adoption agency on the flight, but we actually sat next to her. And she was not just a worker, but a director in the organization. Even more specifically, she is the sister of the founder of the agency. We spent a good part of the flight laughing, talking logistics, learning some Chinese and just getting to know her better. The Lord indeed went before us as He has continued to do throughout this process, and we look forward to the days ahead.