Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Week in Guangzhou

This has been a great week in GZ!
We have enjoyed getting to know our girls. 
They are such sweet blessings and seem to be loving having a family. 

The Garden Hotel has been absolutely fabulous. 
A mama could get spoiled here. 

We have had the most wonderful travel group. 
We've made great new friends and seen their families integrated with sweet new children. 

We've kept busy everyday which has helped this third week pass more quickly. 
Saturday the girls had their medicals. 
Sunday our group went shopping in GZ. 
Monday our family visited an American run foster home that is dear to
our hearts and even met and held the little boy we sponsor. 
Tuesday most of our group went to Safari Park (highly recommend). 
Wednesday we had our consulate appointment and then ate dinner with 
our group at a Mexican restaurant. 
Today our group visited Shamian Island,
and this afternoon we received the girls' US visas!!!

Tomorrow (drumroll please) we begin the 25 hour journey home!
I can't wait to see all my children! 

It has been a wonderful trip, 
and the best part, of course, is we have two new precious daughters. 
We can't wait to get them home to begin the 
real journey as The Lord grafts them ever so wonderfully into our family.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Waiting in Nanchang

We have spent the week in Nanchang. Sarah Kate's adoption was finalized on Tuesday,
and she became a forever member of the Hixon family!
We have been waiting for her passport to be issued these last few days
and have passed the time in China's People's Parks. 

It is no wonder so many people come to these parks. 
They offer such a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets.
Around every turn of these peaceful little paths are people exercising, 
stretching, and even dancing. 
Parents bring their children to play and relax,
and I believe even more grandparents are here. 

It is not uncommon for local people to stop us and ask 
(In Chinese) if the girls are Chinese and if we are Americans. 
However, it was a treat when an older man stopped us and asked 
the same thing in broken English and then switched to Spanish!
That is not common around here!  We conversed a minute in
what little espanol we all knew then said good bye. Funny!

Today is Friday, and we should receive Sarah Kate's passport. 
This evening we board the plane for Guangzhou, the last leg of
our journey!  
In GZ, we will jump through a few more hoops for
US immigration (girls' medical examines at US consulate, TB testing)
and then their consulate appointment is next Wednesday. 
We should receive their US visas by Thursday afternoon
and then begin the long journey home next Friday. 

To say we are missing our other children would
be an understatement. 
No mama should have to be away from her babies 
for 3 weeks!  
Ok, sorry. Pity party over. 
We are so thankful for Skype. 
We are able to Skype with them twice a day, 
and that does help a lot. 
But nothing beats having all 
a mama's chicks in one nest. 

Sarah Kate and Ruthie are both doing very well. 
I see positive steps toward attachment, 
and they both are such blessings from The Lord. 

Ruthie is so fun and mischievous. 
She loves to play and explore. 
We have noticed she actually knows how to play. 
She will sit with Josiah's Legos or other small toys
and entertain herself well. 
Se has spirit and spunk,
and she is beginning to learn what "no" means!
She is going to be a blast in our family and fit right in,
and even though she has a stubborn streak, she should be fairly
straightforward to train. :)

Sarah Kate is a precious little doll. 
Her grieving has subsided significantly already,
and she is mostly smiles all day. 
She loves to hear laughter and enjoys
all the love and attention she is receiving. 
She is very tiny for 2.5 years. 
Because of her special needs, she is mostly 
immobile. She cannot even sit unassisted. 
I'm sure this has lent to lack of stimulation 
in the past couple years. 
We hope to do everything we can
to help her make progress and provide her
the attention and stimulation she needs. 

Both the girls have several orthopedic issues,
so this year will be a busy medical year for us. 
But we know the potential The Lord has for both of them
(At least we can imagine some of it, but experience has told us 
we really have no idea the wonderful mercies He has in store),
and we cannot wait to get a glimpse of where this journey
will be taking our new precious daughters!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sarah Kate's Gotcha Day

We arrived in Nanchang Saturday night. 
This province (Jiangxi) has Sunday Gotcha Days,
and on Sunday, May 19th, Sarah Kate's orphanage director brought 
her directly to our room!
Talk about special delivery!

The orphanage director stayed in the room for 
almost an hour, telling us what he could about Sarah Kate
and answering our questions. 

Overall, she has handled the transition well. She has cried some but also laughed. 
She fell asleep easily but has whimpered through the night. 

This morning we will be busy finalizing the adoption, stopping at the civil affairs office, the notary, 
 and the police station to apply for her passport. 

She is such a doll and has such a gentle personality. 
What a blessing to be allowed the opportunity to raise one more
treasure for the Lord's glory!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Visiting Ruthie's Orphanage

Friday was a significant day for Ruthie and for us. 
We were able to visit her orphanage. 

I have mentioned before how impressed we have been with HZ CWI. 
Visiting here was such a blessing. It was very clean, yet not a sterile atmosphere 
The love these dear people have for the children was very evident. We visited her
room where she has slept. There were 30-40 baby beds in there, but not one baby was left in 
A bed at 10 o'clock in the morning. All beds were empty, and the children were 
out playing or learning.

We were able to visit her classroom, and her teachers set her
at a little empty chair for her to visit with her friends one last time. 
Soooo cute and adorable. 
The little boy in the hat is her best friend. Such a doll!!
The little boy in blue kept smiling at us and saying "Nihao!"
Te one other little girl pointed at the empty chair beside her for
Me to sit at the table with her.  They were all so precious!!!

Here is Ruthie with one of her teachers!
They all were so happy to see her;  cannot even begin to explain how they made our visit very special and encouraged us to send 
Updates via email. They were very curious about the medical intervention 
Ruthie would receive. They all hope so much that she will bw able to walk. We do, too!!!
Before we left, they gave us a photo book, very similar to one you might make at Shutterfly, full of pics of our sweet Ruthie.   We were presented with a book  very similar
To a baby book with many of her milestones and medical records. We are so thankful for the care and attention she has received!  
It has, by far, been our best experience with an orphanage!
I only wish all the fatherless could have at least this type of care. 

Ruthie handled the visit very well. She cried when leaving her little classroom, but we saw no setbacks after visiting the orphanage.

Actually, we have begun to see more smiles, more playfulness, and have enjoyed seeing her relax more and open up to her forever family!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Officially a Hixon!

Tuesday was Ruthie's Adoption Day!  It was such a special day to us!  We shared the day with three other families. Eric, Benjamin, Josiah, and I were so proud and excited, but the star of the show just slept right through it. :)

That night we celebrated with dinner with new friends, the Mortensens from California, who adopted
their sweet daughter the same hour. It was such a treat to get to know this awesome family; she and I
have been in the same DTC FB group since the fall, and had wondered and hoped we would be here
in HZ at the very same time!  What a surprise and a blessing that we are and were able to share Gotcha Days and Adoption Days!

Yesterday, our guide took us to West Lake, a very large lake just west of the city, and we took a boat out across the lake. This is a very popular tourist attraction and was very busy, even on a Wednesday. We walked around many of the gardens surrounding the lake, and Savor, our guide, shared more about the Chinese history, which I loved to hear!!!

Savor also took us to a tea plantation here in Hangzhou. That was a neat experience!

Ruthie is doing well. She seems to have formed a type of "trauma attachment" to me. She spends most of her days in my arms or lap, which I love, but she responds in panic if I put her down or hand her to someone else. We are working on this slowly and patiently, but meanwhile, I am loving the ample opportunity to hold this precious one!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ruthie's Gotcha Day

I am attempting to blog and post pictures from my iPad, so please forgive if this post is a mess. ;)

We are so thankful that we have our precious Ruthie!  Praising The Lord!!!

We woke up Monday morning, May 13, 2013, a little earlier than we planned, had breakfast, skyped with some friends, and then Skyped with our children back home. Boy, is it wonderful to see them!  

We met our wonderful guide Savor in the lobby at 9 AM, and off we went to the Civil Affairs office. It was only 20 min away. When we reached the gment office, there were several families already there, one from a FB group who had already received their child. There were at least a dozen Chinese officials and orphanage employees (representing several different orphanages from this province) in the room. Suddenly, Savor said, "Look!  She is already here!"

And there she was, sitting on the corner of the table!  We went over to her, and I picked her up. Holding her was one of the best feelings in the world!  She was very afraid, especially of the males in our group. She clung to me and cried. It was so sad to think that she had no idea that we already loved her so much and how terrifying it must be to be placed into the arms of strangers without that knowledge. 

She continued to cry until we pulled a dumdum sucker. Candy is the universal language!!!  Although it did not procure any smiles, she quieted down. We were there for at least an hour. Eric completed several documents, and we signed and placed our fingerprints on at least 8 pieces of paper. They took the normal family picture for the adoption decree, and then we also had a good opportunity to talk to Ying, the Internationl Adoption Coordinator from Hangzhou orphanage. 

Ying was such a wonderful help!  She seemed to know a lot about Ruthie and answered many pages 

of questions I had prepared. It really helps to know more about what she has been accustomed to!  I want to add that our experience with this orphanage has been very positive. From the generous updates they have given over the past few months to the many pictures they  have shared even to the way they had her dressed. Yesterday they brought her in a beautiful red top and blue pants with stars on it!  The gesture of dressing her in red, white, and blue was not unnoticed by this mama!

After we left, Ruthie was still afraid, but she did not cry. We rode in the van to the local Carrefour (similar to a Walmart) for diapers, formula, and other supplies. Here she remained very cautious but 

was very inquisitive!  We even saw a smile or two!  

Back in the room she began to relax even more. She crawled around, pulled up on her crib, but seemed to feel more secure in my lap. Benjamin and I took her down to the hotel restaurant to get a little lunch. We had to wait much longer than we anticipated, but she held out well. She even began or show her spunky side!

She seemed to warm up to Eric more in the room. Soon she began to get very sleepy, but when I started to put her in her crib, she cried and protested!  I was a little surprised since she has been very used to a crib, but I let her lie in the bed with me. Within two minutes she was asleep. It had been 

such an overwhelming day for her. 

She slept at least 2 hours, but when she woke up, her grieving seemed to take another form. She was very quiet and withdrawn and didn't offer as many smiles. This continued for the rest of the evening. She drank her bottle, tried a few bites of pizza, skyped with her new siblings back home, had a bath, drank her nightly yogurt drink, and easily fell back asleep. However, throughout the evening, she cried brokenheartedly if I put her down. I'm sad she is so scared but thankful she is looking to me for comfort. 

We love this darling child more than words can explain. We are praying that tomorrow some of  the

grieving eases, but if not, we are so glad to be able to walk with her through it. She will not be alone again. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Made It to Hangzhou

After 27 hours of plane travel, 1 flight change, 1 medical emergency on the plane, 1 night at the Ramada Airport Hotel in Shanghai, and 1 Express Train ride, we have arrived in HZ!  It seems to be a beautiful city, and we look forward to staying here this week!

Benjamin and Josiah have accompanied us on this trip, and both seem to be doing well now, although we are all a little tired!  Our guide recommended a restaurant next door, so we are about to venture out and try it.

In order to use our Skymiles for our tickets, we had to leave Thursday rather than yesterday, so we have an extra day tomorrow. We are looking forward to exploring the city a little and seeing West Lake.

Monday is when we will meet Ruthie for the first time and take her into our arms and family!  We are so excited and can hardly believe we are in her city!  Somewhere out there in the midst of all the buildings is where she has spent her last 21 months, and she will sleep there just 2 more nights an orphan. Monday, Lord willing, He will begin grafting her into our family, as He has already done to do so in our hearts!  Soon and very soon she will be an ORPHAN NO MORE!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Leaving Thursday!

It is hard to believe that we are just about 29 hours from travel!  Our first flight leaves Birmingham at 5:30 AM Thursday morning!  We will be traveling approximately 27 hours, so please keep us in your prayers!

Our first Gotcha Day will be Monday the 13th in Hangzhou for precious Ruthie!  We will spend a week in HZ and then travel to Nanchang for sweet Sarah Kate's Gotcha Day:  Sunday the 19th!

Unfortunately, we will be in China for 3 weeks, so we will not return until the end of May.  I plan to post here on the blog regularly, so I hope you will be able to read along and continue to pray for us!

There are so many things we have to be thankful for in this journey.  We praise the Lord for providing the funds for this adoption!  He provided all the agency fees, the out of pocket expenses, the in-country expenses, and even the sky miles to cover most of the tickets.  We are so blessed and encouraged by His faithfulness and the many who have helped along the way. 

We are also thankful to Eric's parents who will care for our 7 children that will be staying home.  What a blessing to have family that will love on your kids and stand in the gap during this endeavor!

Two of the kiddos will be traveling with us:  Benjamin and Josiah.  And it is so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that 4 kiddos will be traveling back home with us! 

Stay tuned!

Friday, April 26, 2013

TA Today!

We have been waiting for the news all week to hear when we would receive Travel Approval!  We are thrilled it came today!

We now have to wait all weekend for the travel deets, but I can't wait to share them with you!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ministries of Lifesong

Lifesong is such an awesome ministry that exists to help the church care for orphans.  We have received an incredible matching grant from Lifesong to help bring Sarah Kate and Ruthie home, and Lifesong also facilitated a grant we received when adopting Jonathan and Josiah! 

There are many ways Lifesong helps to mobilize Christians in the ministry of orphan care, and one such way is their foster care ministry, The Forgotten Initiative!  Please go here to read about an exciting home project benefitting a foster care family.

Of course, I have a passion for adoption and wish that many, many more would open their hearts and homes to orphans through adoption.  However, there are many other ways to minister to the fatherless, and I hope you will be encouraged and inspired to consider how you can serve these precious children, too!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

God's Provisions

We are so thankful for the Lord's provisions for these two adoptions.

Our Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser was such a blessing to us in many ways.  So many of our family, church family, and friends helped us prepare the food and also donated items for the silent auction, and then many others supported with their attendance.  God blessed us with over $2600 Saturday night!  We are primarily thankful to the Lord for His provision, and we are also so very thankful for friends and family who love our girls and who see the big picture of adoption.

God put the icing on the cake, though, even before the dinner began.  Friday evening, the night before the fundraiser, we learned from Lifesong for Orphans that we received a $2500 matching grant!!!  So incredible!  So the money we received at the fundraiser was able to be written to Lifesong and designated with our name, and, thus, credited toward our grant!  Our $2600 raised turned into $5100 with the grant!  Isn't God's timing always perfect?!?

We are just a couple thousand away from our needed amount, and God should get all the glory!

Our daughter Hannah put together a video with our pictures of Sarah Kate and Ruthie.  We love it and thought we would share!  I can't wait to jump a plane and go get our girls!

It won't be too much longer now bc we learned yesterday our I-800 paperwork was approved!  We should be receiving Travel Approval in about 6 weeks!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser

We will be holding a fundraiser dinner this Saturday night (March 9th) at 6 PM to help with our final adoption fees

We are so thankful to another local church for allowing us to use their fellowship hall.  Of course, Locust Fork Baptist Church is not just ANY other local church!  This is where I attended from about age 5 until age 20!  I was baptized here, married here, and my husband was licensed and ordained to preach at LFBC.  My parents still attended when they died.  As you can see, it holds a very special place in my heart.  And we are so thankful they are allowing us the use of the fellowship hall (the very one that held our wedding reception!) for this fundraising dinner.

If you are local, we would love for you to join us for dinner at 6 PM.
We are asking for donations. 
To Go Plates will be available if you are in a hurry. 
If you are not in a hurry, please consider our silent auction that will be held from 6-7 PM.
We would love to see you there!!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Pics of Ruthie!

Today in my inbox were the most beautiful and precious photos
of our youngest daughter! 
I cannot help but think she looks like a perfect China doll. 
I am so surprised by the quality of these pictures.  However, over and over
I have been pleased with the reports I hear about the care
she receives in her particular orphanage.
Ruthie lives in Hangzhou, and I have heard
many positive things about their facilities, therapies, etc. 
How thankful we are that God has used caring individuals
to nurture her and hopefully prepare her for life with a family.

We received her updated measurements, and she is just a few inches
taller than Gabriel.  I think they, along with Sarah Kate, will have lots of fun!
Counting down the weeks! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Three Wonderful Little Letters

So thrilled!  Tomorrow came and our LOA came TODAY!! Woohoo!!  (Lifeline; LID 12/17, OOT since 12/26)

On our way to LL to sign!!!

So happy and thankful that we received our LOA's today for the girls!  We were on a field trip and about to leave for home when my cell phone rang.  I told Wendy that I sure hope it is Karla!  I couldn't help but holla when I saw "Lifeline" on my screen!  Yay!!!!

We were able to stop by the office on our way home, sign the long-awaited documents, and celebrate with a Krispie Kreme doughnut!  (I mean, what else do you do when the sign says, "Hot Doughnuts Now" and you are celebrating LOAs? ;)

Our immigration paperwork should be sent off Monday morning.  We expect about 8 more weeks of paperchasing before Travel Approval, and then we will be securing our flights!  We're coming, sweet girls!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fundraising Update and the Costs of Adoption

We are so thankful that you have helped us to raise $500 through Sarah Kate and Ruthie's Block Party!  Thank you to all who particpated!  What a blessing and encouragement to us as others come alongside us in this endeavor!

We also raised approximately $500 through our recent Valentine sucker sale we held!  We had such fun making the suckers with friends, and I am so thankful to my friend Laine for heading that opportunity up and hosting 25 kiddos and their mamas for over 9 hours the day we made the yummy Valentine suckers!


We were thrilled to receive a $1000 grant this week!  God is so faithful to provide!  When we hear from our taxes this week, we hope to have a better idea of how close we are to our goal. 

I share some of this to encourage you.  Adoption is expensive, but for those of you who might be considering adoption, do not let the financial costs hinder you from taking a leap of faith!  God is always faithful to provide for His will. 

Actually, I read a great article this week from our agency Lifeline.  It is so natural for us to ask the financial costs of adoption and to plan and even obsess over the dollar bottom line.  Paying the fees is necessary.  However, many times we fail to consider the other costs.  A far greater consideration is the commitment of giving your life to a child that will be grafted into your family~~

...the long haul commitment and also the day in and day out of sacrificing of self to invest in a precious soul that has been entrusted to you by God. 

It is a marathon but also a day to day sprint.  However, we do not run the race alone for the Lord's mercies are new everyday.

So if you might be considering adoption, I might possibly be your biggest supportor!  Don't be discouraged by the hefty price for God is faithful.  And keep in mind that the bigger sacrifices do not come in the figures of numbers but in the daily track of life.

Of course, the rewards don't come in numbers either, unless you consider ONE LESS orphan caught in the cycles of abandonment, poverty, and neglect and ONE MORE child to love, nurture, equip, disciple, and raise in ways of the Lord and in the arms of your loving family! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Online Fundraiser: Chinese New Year Block Party!

It is time to celebrate Chinese New Year!  We would love to be celebrating with Sarah Kate and Ruthie home with the rest of our family, but they are still waiting in China.  We should be traveling to bring them home in a few short months. 

We are still fundraising and could use your help!  Since we can not be with them this CNY, we are asking you to celebrate with us through our online fundraiser.

We are hosting an online Chinese New Year "Block" Party!  We would love for you to participate and be a part of bringing them home!  You can sponsor a wooden block for each of our girls, and we are going to write your name on their blocks to remind them of your love and help in bringing them home! 

$20 sponsors one block for each girl!

$20 sponsors 2 blocks--one for Sarah Kate and one for Ruthie.  We intend to use the money raised toward their orphanage donations due in China.

You can donate through the paypal button on the right.  (If you would rather donate through check, please leave me a comment, and I will be happy to give you mailing information.)

Thank you so much in your interest and help in our journey to Sarah Kate and Ruthie!  Would you consider donating $20 and then sharing our story with 20 friends?  Our Block Party will continue through February 15th!

Please share with 20 friends!!!

Thank you for your continued love, prayers, and support for our family. 
And Happy Chinese New Year!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

31 Fundraiser!

One of my wonderful "real life" friends ;) is also an incredible 31 Director.  Christy Hill has been so awesome to allow us to do a 31 Online Adoption Fundraiser

Have you ever tried the 31 products???  They are wonderful!  I have the items below, and they are a huge help with all the stuff management required around here!  (We use the large utility tote on the left as our Bible bag, and it has held up carrying 11 Bibles plus several other "quiet" books/activities back and forth to church every week.)

Please take a minute to follow our link and look at all the amazing 31 products Christy has to offer!

Our fundraiser runs through the 28th of this month, and all proceeds go to our adoption costs!  What a blessing! 

Also, you need to know about the 31 special this month!  For every $31 you  order, you can choose an organizing item for 50% off!  Be sure to select your $31 worth of merchandise for your cart and then choose an organizing item from pages 28-29.  When adding your discount selection, be sure to add an "s" behind the product code to ensure you receive the special price.

You can even have it shipped right to your house!

Thanks for helping us bring these darling girls home!

Ruthie, waiting in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

Sarah Kate, waiting in Ruijin, Jiangxi, China

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Jonathan just before his leg surgery at the skating rink with a sweet
friend from church

Jonathan last month at the skating rink!  One year with his "Cars" leg!

We continue to see God's goodness and grace in Jonathan's life!