Well, hello from China! We’re alive and well over here. #andreadytobehome
Right now, it’s Wednesday afternoon and Madeley is napping, the big kids just finished their school work and we’re about to go swimming in the hotel pool. I thought I’d take a minute to share a few pics and some very random thoughts. Between the jet lag, the new kid, and everything else, my brain is mush ;).
We woke up on Day 5 and had to get to breakfast early because we had an adoption appointment first thing that morning. A little selfie with me and number three.
Madeley is ready to eat…or at least attempt to eat. She’s totally into attempting to chew now (she had previously been on a formula diet). This was our first breakfast with her and she tried very hard to get egg in her mouth and we attempted yogurt too.
Downstairs heading to our appointment. I love these two so much!
I mean, so cute, right?!?! At this civil office, they had a great play area, so our kids totally entertained themselves. We were there about 1.5 hours, so the play area was a real lifesaver. I only had to tell Smith 458 times that he could not play dodgeball in there. #ohsmithyouandyourenergy
It honestly really surprises me that Madeley walks because she’s not very active. She is totally fine just sitting or lying there and letting the world go by. I’m sure that was quite helpful in her orphanage when they were caring for so many kids, but we’re trying to encourage her to move a bit more. She loved this rocker and happily climbed on it several times.
Please note, Kensington is ready to drop out of school and care for Madeley full time. Or work at the makeup counter at the mall. That kid constantly has a baby in her arms and lipgloss in her hands.
So, she says “mama” and that melts my heart. She also says dada and bye. She can blow kisses, give high fives and throw a major fit if you take away her spaghetti. #learnedthatthehardway
We’ve gotten good at entertaining ourselves in civil offices.
That’s his “you just caught me throwing the ball at my sisters even though you told me to stop” face and Ashby’s “oh heaven help me to hang on to this ball so that he doesn’t throw it again” face.
Whew! An hour and a half later and all of the paperwork is wrapped up for Madeley’s province. Woohoo!
I mean…this picture is terrible for about 100 reasons…but it shows us outside in Jinan at their evening water/light show.
Big kids taking pictures of the show. This was their favorite part of Jinan.
As we were leaving, a Chinese woman stopped me to ask if all four kids were mine. I said yes and she asked me how I could have so many. I told her I was American and we can have as many kids as we want. She pointed to Ashby and said “she looks Chinese” and I said “yes, these two (pointing to A & M) are both Chinese” and she said, “No, that one’s not” (pointing to M) and walked off. Ha! You have to laugh. People say the funniest things sometimes.
I mean…I looked like a hot mess that morning at breakfast because I hadn’t dressed yet…but how sweet is my son? #becausehehadnododgeball
On this afternoon, we left our hotel in Jinan to fly to Guangzhou (where all Americans have to go to complete their Chinese adoptions). I took a picture of our hotel door because in this room right here, a daughter was born into a family.
I mean…I failed at taking pictures the rest of this day. We packed, had to sign some papers that were being notarized, we ate, we got into the van and drove the hour to the airport, we waited at the airport for 2.5 hours and then flew to Guangzhou. Madeley slept about half the flight and then just sat in my lap the other half. We landed at 7:30, got our luggage, met our adoption guide for Guangzhou and drove the hour to our hotel. We checked in, ordered room service (around 9:00 PM) and crashed. Travel days are long.
Back in Guangzhou and oh so happy! This was our favorite stop last time and we’re pumped to be back for our last week in China. Last time, we were in China three weeks and this time, about two. We love this hotel, we love this city, we love, love, love ending in Guangzhou. We started off our day with a yummy breakfast downstairs. Madeley pretty much has her serious face on all the time ;).
That’s her “put the phone down and find me some food” face. In only three days, she’s improving quite a bit with eating. We’re still giving her formula, but she has been chewing more and more and pushing less and less out with her tongue. She ate a little egg, banana bread and an entire container of yogurt for breakfast. We’re calling that a BIG win!
Same girl, same smile, same fortitude and the exact same spot only 20 months later. It’s like deja vu being back at this hotel. It feels like we were just here. #wekindofwere It’s amazing to me to look at Madeley and think in 20 months how much can change. This Ashby girl has my heart. She is PRECIOUS. Many of you have asked about her hand and her procedures and I mean…it’s too early to tell. I do think there has been some improvement between the first and second procedure…but we just don’t know yet. She’s tough. I know I say that all the time, but seriously…SHE IS TOUGH.
My mama heart is just so full.
So, now here is a bunch of randomness:
1: I do not have the gift of homeschooling. One of my kids makes it easy and one of them makes me want to poke my eye out with a pencil.
2: We ordered chocolate ice cream the other night and it came with sliced cherry tomatoes on top.
3. I would kill for a taco right now.
4. We got into the van today to head to Madeley’s medical exam (required for her to get her US Visa) when our adoption guide turns around and says “she has (insert scary sounding medical problem here)” and I’m all like “no, she has (insert not quite as scary medical problem)” and she’s like “it’s all over her Chinese files that this is her problem” and I’m all “well, that isn’t right” and she’s all “yes, it is” and then we agreed to meet in the middle with said scary sounding medical problem. She goes “what does her medication say?” and I’m all “it’s in Mandarin…so you know, I took their word for it”. So needless to say, that’s not what you want to hear going into the medical appointment. I’m pretty sure I’m right and they’re wrong…she started asking me if she had x,y and z symptoms and she doesn’t. Some things are better discussed at home. #bigwideeyeemojihere
5. I miss my home wifi.
6. So, I’m always telling you how practical Smith is. He just says the obvious all the time and doesn’t buy into things other kids (cough, cough, Kensington) do. So at the airport yesterday, a group of Chinese men were interested in him. They were standing really close to him talking about him, pointing, discussing right next to him and Smith says, “I can’t wait to get back to the LA airport so I can stand close to a Chinese person and make them feel weird”. Hahahaha! That kid cracks me up.
7. I miss pumpkins. I miss seeing them, eating them, drinking them in my coffee (even if it’s faux-pumpkin, I don’t care!). I really miss pumpkin everything.
8. Madeley weighs 23 pounds. I learned that today at her appointment.
9. Speaking of Madeley…so many people want to know where we got her name. I mean…at this point, I figured you would all know and not have to ask ;). We literally took out a map of England and found this great little town outside of London called Madeley, England. Because when you start a trend (British names), you have to carry it to the end, right?! And James is for King James plus James 1:27 in the Bible tells us to care for the orphans. So, Madeley James 🙂 .
10. Next question is “why did you change their names?”. The answer is for two reasons: I want Ashby and Madeley to feel like they are Shulls. I want them to feel included, incorporated, integral and exactly like the older two Shull kids. Plus, the names each girl was given in their orphanages were not unique or special…they were assigned and not really used to address each girl. They weren’t calling them by those names, they are just names for paperwork, so they didn’t respond to those names either.
11. And does Madeley know her name? I think she does! When we say it now, she’ll look at us. That’s sweet 🙂 .
So, okay…we’re off to swim. I’ll let you know later how that works out for Madeley 😉 .
One last story, remember that awesome family I told you about last time who has 11 kids and are here adopting two more? Well, their oldest here is 13 and has never been able to walk. They told me that she was found sitting on a bench at a bus terminal at the age of five. Her grandpa took her to the bus terminal and sat her there (she couldn’t walk) and said he’d be right back with bus tickets for them and he never returned. Can you imagine? Being five and abandoned like that (without the ability to get down and ask for help). Friends, Andrew and I are moved to tears over here by the stories like this. There are so many families adopting these precious kids who have suffered so much and need a forever home. When I think of that little girl being left and then being placed into an orphanage for 8 years before being adopted by this precious family…my heart stops. How amazing is that? She’s very ill and they’re not sure how long she’ll live (we’re obviously praying for a miracle!), but her days are about to get a little better. If you’ve ever considered adopting, I urge you to act on it. Story after story, person after person, encounter after encounter over here is moving my heart in such big ways. Adoption is so many hard things…BUT IT IS AMAZING. And there are special kids over here who need you to come get them and bring them home. It’s a calling (I’m not saying it’s for everyone), so if you feel called, my prayer this afternoon is that you act on it.
Okay…time to swim and then tomorrow, we celebrate Kensington’s 8th birthday :).
To see my first post on Madeley’s adoption, click HERE.