Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Princess peanut
Stacy and sweet Estee, friends we've made from CA, Estee has been with Piper Grace in the orphanage since April 2006

After Scott got back from shopping for the orphanage, XiXi took some of us to an eye glasses shop and Scott got a pair of prescription sunglasses for $40 that would have cost him at least $250 at home. As we left the shop, a nice size crowd developed to ooh and ahh over the babies. We showed them our "license to carry" cards and got lots of smiles. We then went with the CA family, the Musgroves, to a "5 star Pizza Hut". It was a sit down Pizza Hut, restaurant style and it tasted really good, a nice break from the set your mouth on fire cuisine we've been enjoying. We gave Piper a piece of the crust which she chewed the entire time we were there. She doesn't have any teeth, as you can see from the pictures, but it won't be long.
We have to fill out some paperwork this afternoon for the US side of the adoption that will be finalized in Guangzhou next week. I can't believe we are so blessed to be Piper parents, I really can't.
If Piper keeps sleeping, I'll post some pics of Chongqing...
Keep those prayers coming, they are being answered each and every day!
Our California friends, the Musgroves and XiXi, our guide - eating from the Hot Pot, basically a fire in the middle of the table with boiling chicken stock type liquid in which you add whatever you want. The most adventursome we got was eel. The table next to us had pig brain in theirs. I can hardly even type that, much less eat it. By the end of the meal, Piper had knocked most of my food onto the floor. Did I tell you she is a bit curious?

"Hyper Piper" has been living up to her nickname this morning. Rolling all over the place, cooing, babbling, and finding endless facination with her toes, which have probably been covered up for most of her life.

Scott went with our guide XiXi and some others to a wholesale baby clothes market to buy some clothing for the babies at Piper's orphanage this morning. Piper seems to be have been taken good care of. She came to us clean, without a blemish on her skin, no diaper rash, and none of the other things that I read she might have.

So far, Piper's motto seems to be "play hard, sleep hard". When she is awake, she's very awake. When she gets tired, she puts her palm to her mouth and suckles it, the other hand kind of rolls around her head and cheek and then she's out.

The food - can you say HOT? Even Scott has had tears in his eyes at times. XiXi wanted us to eat real local food, so off we went last night. Xi Xi explained that Chongqing in the summer time, which begins in April, is steaming hot - like 115 degrees hot. Some how eating very spicy food helps them not to sweat she said. Not sure about that, as our entire table lost at least 5lbs each in sweat eating at the restaurant last night. We had a ton of food, all for about $2.00 each.

In some ways it seems like we've been her forever, and in others it's hard to imagine that we will leave Chongqing in 2 days. It's definately become a home away from home, as we really enjoy the city life and being able to walk outside the hotel lobby and experience so much. There is something very enduring about the Chinese people and the way they just walk up to you like you are an instant friend. I will miss that. I really wish Hunter and Ella could experience it, hopefully we'll come back when they are all older.

I'll post more pictures later, Scott took the camera with him, and I need to download some more when he gets back.

We miss everyone. We read each of your messages over and over.

Pure sweetness..

Its good to be king

Piper's taxi

be still, my heart
No time to write, just pics till after dinner tonight. We are eating "local food" tonight as a group. Funny, I thought we've been eating local food all along. Should be fun. Today has been a great day. We love this little peanut more than we could have imagined.
Thank you for your notes and prayers - we feel every one of them.
Love from China,
Piper's mommy!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

American Freak Show

Our group trying to get to the dept. store
A woman reading our "liscence to carry" as our friend from CA calls it.

In America when we see something we perceive as odd or strange, we generally try to look while trying to look as though we are not looking. None of that pretense here. Where ever we go, we draw a crowd. The Chinese people are very open and friendly and just line up and speak to you in Chinese. We pull out our little card that tells them who we are and what we are doing with Chinese babies. They smile big and give you a thumbs up and then continue to talk to you in Chinese. If it's a woman over the age of 50, she will point and tell you that your baby is cold and needs more clothes on. This while you are sweating in your tshirt and jeans, just wishing it were acceptable to wear shorts and flip flops. I have not seen one bare pair of legs or feet since we've been here. The kids are all bundled up in ski type coats, while we are hot in our short sleeves. I am really surprised by the high fashion of the women here. They dress much different than many of the Chinese Americans we see in our area. We are going to zoo this morning. I anticipate we will draw more attention than the pandas. I will make sure and have Piper dressed as warmly as possible without making her uncomfortable.
On another note, our little Piper has earned herself a nickname around here - Hyper Piper! We've been hanging out a lot with a family from CA who have 3 older children, 13, 11, and 9 years old I think. The 9 year old boy started calling Piper, Hyper Piper b/c she is so active and animated when we go out. Many of the babies are pretty quiet so far, so she kind of makes sure she gets attention by blowing raspberries, babbling, and making eye contact with people.
One of the prayers I prayed over and over was that we would begin to see her personality early on and that she would be open to connection. We can put a giant check mark next to that one!
Off to the zoo!

Attachment 101

A day of firsts - When Piper woke up from her 3 1/2 hour nap a thon, I fed her and then we had time to play before going to dinner. She was the happiest we've seen her, with all out giggles and smiles while she played with the baby wipe container. She continues to mimic little things we are doing and not even aware of. I was burping her and she put her tiny little hand on my shoulder and began burping me. Then she looks up at me with her eyes big and flashes her smile. We took her to the hotel restaurant with one of the other families for dinner. She soaked up all of the attention she gets with her babbles and squeals. The Chinese ladies are very open and always smile at her and talk to her when we are out. There was a Chinese couple eating next to us and the woman kept smiling at Piper and me. Eventually she came over and asked if she could hold Piper. I said yes, thinking to myself that she'd better stay within 3 feet of me! The woman was very good with her, but I was watching to see what Piper's reaction would be. The woman had Piper smiling but Piper kept her eye on Scott and me, which is a good sign she is starting to realize that she belongs with us. Towards the end of the meal Piper started to get a bit antsy so we went straight back to our room to get her a bottle and ready for bed. She seemed a bit agitated as we did that, but went to sleep after a few minutes of suckling on her hand as she does. I wondered if that interaction with the lady in restaurant had had an affect on her. About midnight she woke up crying - a first. We picked her up and did all the things parents do to try and solve the problem, but she continued to cry. I eventually took her and laid with her on the bed next to me, as nothing else seemed to help her. As I listened to her cry, it rang of sadness, not a regular baby cry of being uncomfortable or mad, just sadness. I was prepared for this and read about it, but quite honestly, nothing can really prepare you for how much you will love this baby and just how difficult it is to hear a baby you would lay your life down for grieve. In the attachment in adoption world, grieving is good. You want your baby to have feelings and grieve the losses she has been through and to feel free to let them out with you. It is heartbreaking to think about what our Piper has to process, but we know this is the only road that will bring her to a healthy attachment with us and good relationships in the future. Eventually her little cries got quieter and then they would well up again just like you do when you're really sad. She eventually fell asleep and has been asleep all night. I can't wait to hold her when she wakes up.
What a journey. I have to say I have rarely felt so alive and so sure I am right where I am supposed to be. It is not without sacrifice and at times pain as is the case whenever you choose to open up your heart. My heart is wide open to Piper and would walk with her down whatever road God places before her.
One of our favorite authors is John Piper (notice the last name). In his book, "Don't Waste Your Life", he talks about the finding the joy God promises us in the bible. He shows how this joy, as in the case of Jesus, does not come from the things we think it does, but from walking with God on the road love and suffering. It is the mere presence of God on this road where joy is found. Hebrews 12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the thrown of God". I can tell you that the joy we've experienced far outweighs the pain and somehow the pain is part of the joy.
John Piper says: "What a tragic waste when people turn away from the Calavary Road of love and suffering. All the riches of the glory of God in Christ a re on that road. All the sweetest fellowship with Jesus is there. All the treasures of assurance. All the ecstasies of joy. All the clearest sightings of eternity. All the noblest camaraderie. All the humblest affections. All the most tender acts of forgiving kindness. All the deepest discoveries of God's word. All the most earnest prayers. They are all on the calvary road where Jesus walks with his people. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. On this road, and this road alone, life is Christ and death is gain. Life on every other road is wasted."
I am convinced.
We also wanted to thank you from the bottom of our very full hearts for your emails, comments, and prayers. It is like water to a thirsty soul to read your words from home. We feel as though we are in another universe at times and feels so good to read your words and know you are with us in spirit. I don't think I mentioned this before, but according to the Chinese government Piper officially is ours and has been with us since we met her. She feels like she has been ours forever, but now we have a certificate to prove it!
Today we go to the zoo, where they have "10 famous pandas" as we've been told. Hunter and Ella, we'll take lots of pictures!
Piper's cold seems to be getting better, she only coughs occasionally and doesn't seem bothered by it.
I've got pictures to post, but for some reason blogger won't let me post them right now. I'll try again soon.
Love from China,


(click to enlarge)

Piper's new friend at the restaurant

100% pure sugar


So far, this is just too easy! I know, you're thinking just wait. Same thing I think when someone with a one week old says their baby is just so easy and a good a sleeper. I know the chances are that she won't always be so easy, but a girl can dream can't she! Easy or not, we love her and she's ours for good. So many unexpected blessings...watching her see the outside world for the first time, taking it all in, the way she plays with us in the sweetest ways, the way we've already developed our own little "language" with her, just getting to know her sweet ways like the way she comforts herself by making this little suckling sound by putting the bottom of her palm to her mouth. Her hands...that is what she had always available at the orphanage and she really makes the most out of them. She plays little games with them which are so interesting to watch, one we call "peek a boo thumb" where she hides her thumb and then pops it out over and over. She uses her hands to put herself to sleep by putting them up around her cheeks and mouth, that's one of the ways she tells us she's tired. She looks very deeply into our eyes and loves to play. We are seeing more and more smiles and each one is like a little gift sent straight from heaven. She's hungry...more later
Love from China,

What's that burning smell?

yes, those are burn marks on the dresser
It's rarely a good thing when someone says "what's that burning smell?". I'd woken up after a fantastic, life altering 2 hour nap, Piper was still asleep, and I decided to spruce myself up which involved plugging in my flat iron for my hair. Apparently the wall outlets here have some major voltage. Scott and I divided up tasks for this trip and one of his was to bring the adaptors for the outlets so we could plug our stuff in. I used my flat iron earlier a few days ago and all was well. Not so today. Eventually the smell got so strong that I couldn't ignore it any longer and went searching for the source. Let's just say in the rest of the pictures my hair will be au natural. I have a feeling it's pretty hard to find a flat iron in China.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Little Miss Precious!

God has answered every prayer in a most remarkable way. From the moment we held her, Piper just looked into our eyes intently, touching our cheeks and interacting with us from the very beginning. She was very serious at first, but already she is babbling, saying da duh, da duh, and ba ba ba ba ba. She is playing with us, mimicking even little things we are doing with her. Scott was on the floor with her patting his hand on the floor in front of her. Later he got up to go do something and he looked back at Piper and she looked at him and started patting her hand on the floor just like he had done, as if to say "Hey, get over here, we were playing"! We took her out to dinner tonight with one of the other families and she just loved being out in all of the action, picture Times Square at night with a Chinese twist, lots of lights. In fact, Chongqing is known as the city of lights. We got back to her room, gave her a bottle, snuggled and she put herself to sleep in a about 5 minutes. She has only cried once today for about 30 seconds. Boy do we get the looks now that we have Piper. Our guide gave us a card to show people that says that we have adopted Piper because we love her and love China. People smile very big and then keep on staring.
We'll have more pictures later, we are flat exhausted. It's 10:00 pm China time and its been a wonderful whirlwind of a day. I'll tell you more about it after I get some sleep.
We were told that Piper does have a cold and has been on medicine. She has a nasty cough, but does not act like she feels bad in the least. We started her on the antibiotic we brought from home, so hopefully that will knock it out.
She is a beauty, and we love her already. It's hard to believe that she's only been with us for 8 hours.
Thank you Lord!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

3 1/2 hours to go!

Scott just left for the meeting room to complete all of the paperwork. I am supposed to meet him there in 45 minutes to get last minute instructions. We'll all board a bus at 1pm and get the babies at 1:30! Our guide said to be prepared for how fast the process will go. After all of the hoops we've been through, paperwork mountains to climb, ups and downs, the nanny will simply hand Piper Grace to us and that is that.
We just had breakfast with some of the families in our travel group. It was great to talk to people who have been through the exact same process and find that they have shared the same feelings along the way- kind of an instant bonding with people from around the country that we would have never met otherwise. We are really blessed to be sharing this experience with some really nice folks. Oh, how I wish everyone of you could be here and experience this.
We'll post as soon as we can!
Love from China,

View from our room - 21st floor

Hunter and Ella, here's what it looks like out our window. The people here are very friendly and although there are a lot of people on the street, they are not pushy. The women are fasionistas and I love to see what they are wearing. Many have on knee high boots with long winter type walking shorts with a tailored jacket of some sort. It is very much like New York City, but with ancient buildings thrown in.

6 am Piper Day!

I just spent 45 minutes writing a post about all of the goings on here and apparently pushed the wrong thing and lost it all. All of the labels for the blog are in Chinese, so I'm going by memory mostly. The internet connection here is just like home and we have access to email and can pull up websites, but for some reasons the directions for our website are all in Chinese. Anyway, I know all you really want are to see pictures of Piper! I've been up since 3:45 am, it's now 5:40 am. How's a girl supposed to sleep when TODAY is the THE day? Apparently Scott is not struggling with jet lag in the least as he's been asleep now for 10 hours. Hunter and Ella, he needs you here to jump on him and say "time to GET UP"! I guess I'll have to do it.
I better go pack Piper's diaper bag and make sure everything is in order. I have to say that all of the difficulties of this process have just melted away. In some way I think the struggles along the way have just served to make this moment even sweeter. Funny how life works that way, hope I can take that lesson with me.
As always, please pray for Piper and for us as we begin the process of becoming a family. There really aren't words for the emotions of this morning. For now...
Love from China,


outside our hotel
huge department store
outside our hotel
Eating our last American meal at LAX
14 hours into our flight
Our first view of China, just as the sun came up
flying into Chongqing

This is unreal! We are really here in China, and so far, so good! We are staying in the heart of Chongqing. Our guide said it is the Times Square of China, and it really is a lot like that, very lively, lots of people. She just took our group around the center of the square, right around our hotel, and on our first grocery store trip to get some items for the babies. She said most of these people have only seen Americans on TV and that's why they stare and point at us! There is a little boy in our group with blonde hair and blue eyes who is our celebrity. The ladies point, smile, speak to him in Chinese, and touch his hair constantly. He is handling it really well.
We see everything through Hunter and Ella's eyes and imagine what their reaction would be. Hunter, you would love all of the action and big buildings surrrounded by trees and flowers. Ella, if you were here we'd be carrying you a lot! We hope we can all come here someday as family, when you are old enough to carry your own luggage! You both would love all of the colorful decorations that are up for Chinese New Year.
We slept about 9 hours on the 15 hour flight. I watched "Facing the Giants" on our laptop (thanks, Shannon) until the battery went out. The movie was good, quite sappy, but that's right where I am right now. At one point, the wife in the movie says "I never knew I could miss someone so much that I've never met." I started crying, of course, that's exactly how we feel about Piper. We cannot believe we are so close to her and are beyond excited about tomorrow. As we walk around, I am trying to soak every bit that I can about her birth country in so that we can share it with her as she grows. I already feel like its familiar to me in many ways. Her orphanage is about 10 hours south of Chongqing, but we were told that the babies are were brought here today and staying at a hotel here tonight, not ours, but one in the city! We'll meet them at 1:30 pm China time Monday, that's just after you folks go to bed on Sunday night. While you are watching the Oscars, we'll be getting ready to see Piper Grace for the first time! We were also told that many of the babies are sick with a cold, no surprise, but please pray PG is on the mend and feeling okay. Ironically, many attachment experts say that it's actually good for your baby to be a bit sick when you get them b/c they learn to depend on you as you care for them. So maybe a blessing in disguise?

There are so many details of the trip over here that I want to share, but we're getting ready to go eat dinner with our group. We really like our group and just can't imagine being anywhere but right here right now. We landed in Guangzhou and suddenly found ourselves in what felt like the Amazing Race. The airport is very nice and modern, but when we got to Customs it was apparent that we might not make our next flight. There was a big group of what looked like Algerian men in front of us who were really having a hard time getting through. The officials were going over each of their documents with a manifying glass, literally a magnifying glass. Finally, a pair of angels let us go in front of them b/c they knew we were going to be late. The officials are very serious when looking over your documents and I started to get nervous that we wouldn't get through. Of course we did and from there we all raced through the different check points to get to our next gate, which was quite a ways away. Our whole group made it on the plane, but without a second to spare.
Hunter and Ella, we are thinking about you all the time and "take you with us" where ever we go! We can't wait to talk to you tomorrow!
Please pray, we certainly feel God's hand guiding us!
Love, from China,

Dena, Scott and soon...Piper!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Just one of the reasons you will not be invited to dinner at our house tonight...

Our dining room table

I don't know if I will have time to post again before we leave. We are full of anticipation and just pure, indescribable joy that this process has really come to fruition. I know I say this a lot, but please pray for all of us! As you can imagine, we are going to miss H & E beyond what words can say. They will be in wonderful hands and I know God will be with them each moment of each day, but it's still hard.
I John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know he hears us - whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him."
I Corinthians 2:9 "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
Thank you to everyone who has been with us on this incredible journey. Here we go!!!!
Piper, 3 more sleeps and we will be holding you close!