Oh my goodness…I don’t even know where to start. I guess I ‘ll start from the beginning.
Yesterday, we met our little girl…Madeley James Shull.
Our last family of five selfie. The night before we left, we ate a ton of Mexican food and took one last pic. We were so excited!
On Thursday afternoon, we picked our kids up from school a little early and set out for the airport. We left Dallas at 3:00 and flew to LA before catching a midnight flight to Guangzhou, China.
China bound baby!
We arrived in China at 5:30 AM on Saturday (yeah…left on Thursday, got there on Saturday). We went through customs and then waited for our connecting flight at noon to Jinan, China.
When you realize it will be another 12 hours before you can shower and sleep.
When you find Starbucks.
When you finally see that it’s time to board your last flight.
When you’re just deliriously tired 🙂 .
We finally arrived at our hotel in Jinan around 5:00 PM. We. were. exhausted.
We ordered room service, took showers and were asleep by 7:00 PM.
We woke up bright and early the next morning and were so pumped because we knew it was our Gotcha Day! We have been starring at this date on the calendar for such a long time, so to wake up and know it was actually here was very surreal. Madeley’s orphanage is four hours away in Linyi City, so they bring their kids into Jinan for the adoption process. Last time, Ashby was in a big city, so we met her in her city and were able to visit her orphanage, but they don’t do it like that at Madeley’s. You meet up with your kiddo in your hotel room in Jinan. They told us to be in our rooms at 2:30 PM and she would arrive. So…we waited.
Waiting outside while we were finishing up some paperwork. Jinan is very pretty! We love the natural springs that run throughout the city. This town has over 6 million people in it…so needless to say, it’s not small ;).
We ate breakfast. We went to the bank to exchange money. We looked around the mall (our hotel is on top of a big mall). We ate lunch. We did homework and speech therapy with all three kids. We waited. It was very hard for all of us.
I’ve been wearing my Madeley necklace for over a year now. It was extra special to wear it on this day. The day before we left, my friend Brooke gave me the “born in my heart” necklace…and I couldn’t agree more.
Right at 3:00, there was a knock on the door and two women from the orphanage along with our adoption guide brought in this beautiful little girl…
…it was all kinds of a blur, but Andrew video taped them handing her to me. She cried hysterically and wanted to go back to the lady who was carrying her (which is a good thing! It means she was attached and that’s positive!). I received her and snuggled with her for a minute and then it was time for me to go over everything with the orphanage workers, so Andrew took her and I started taking notes. When they left, I found Andrew on the floor with her like this :).
Kensington went right to work on the basics: lip gloss.
My turn to love on Madeley!
So, Ashby is obsessed already with being the “big sister”. We’re always calling Kensington and Smith “the big kids” and now she’s all like “I’m a big kid too”.
Kensington has decided to raise her. Madeley is like her new favorite toy :).
Ashby’s all like “I hold her too”, “I feed her too”, “I kiss her too”. 🙂
By 5:00, she was sound asleep and the five of us just sat and starred at her. We’re all kind of in disbelief that she’s with us!
The proud parents. I mean, four kids won’t be hard, right? (Ha!)
After dinner (we ordered room service again because we didn’t want to overwhelm Madeley with leaving our room and going to a restaurant), we bathed everyone and put them in their new “coolest sister/brother ever” pjs. We wanted a picture that looked like this one…
Okay, a few random things:
1: Madeley was found in front of a police station on December 19, 2014 and they estimated her to be about two months old, so her birthday is October 19, 2014. She’s almost two :).
2: She is very small for her age and underdeveloped…which is typical for kids coming from institutional settings.
3. She has a mouth full of teeth but does not know how to chew. Apparently, she only had formula in the orphanage, so she doesn’t know how to chew at all. It’s very similar to trying to feed a six month old baby food…she pushes it right out with her tongue.
4: She can walk, so that’s a huge praise! We were not sure if she could walk or not.
5: She’s sleeping like a champ! She slept 12 hours last night and took a 2 hour nap today.
6: She seems to be attaching really well. I mean…it’s only been 24 hours and everything could go to hell in no time…but so far, so good!
7: There is absolutely no way that the Lord is going to let us get a big proud head over here. There is another family from our adoption agency here at the same time and they’re like saints. We’ve been spending a lot of time with them today and words cannot even describe how fantastic they are. They are here getting their 12th and 13th adopted kids (plus they have 2 bio kids). Did you read that? They’re adopting their 12th and 13th kids. Not only that, one of the little girls they’re adopting this week is 13 years old and terminally ill. I mean…it’s been such an honor and a privilege to listen to them talk about their experiences adopting. I am completely overwhelmed by their dedication to their kids and to adoption. They are simply amazing.
8: Kensington has already told me that I might need to quit my job because four kids seems like a lot of work. (Ha!)
9: Madeley is covered in mosquito bites. I thought she might have had chicken pox recently because they’re from her head down to the bottoms of her feet but the orphanage workers said they were “just mosquito bites”. I mean…bless her heart!
10: I know many of you want to know what her special need is and I’ll be happy to share as soon as we have an official diagnosis from a doctor back home. She was born with two conditions that we know of…but we would like to know more info before we put it out there. There is a chance that both of them are under control…we just don’t know for sure yet, so I’ll keep you posted.
11: While I was filling out paperwork and listening to the orphanage workers talk about Madeley and her health/what she likes/dislikes/eats (nothing)/drinks/etc, she was crying and crying with Andrew and then all of a sudden, sweet Ashby started singing “Jesus Loves Me” to her. I mean…20 months ago, that was her screaming her head off and now, she’s consoling the new baby with “Jesus Loves Me”. God is amazing.
I just want you all to know that I have gone through and read every single blog comment, IG comment and FB comment with tears running down my face. I cannot adequately thank you enough for your kindness, love and support. We have prayed and prayed about this adoption and to be able to share it with you is just icing on the cake. This community means more to me than you’ll ever know. Thank you so much.
More to come from China. We had another full day today and hopefully, I’ll have time to share that with you tomorrow.