Saturday, February 04, 2012

Hello Again

Sorry to all of you who have been faithfully checking in every day...there has been so much to write about, but the time...where does it go?  I have many pictures to post...Drew is working on editing and cataloging.  Once that is finished I can load a bunch for you to see. 

In a nut shell, the last few weeks we have celebrated a first birthday and an third adoption day.  Salem turned one last Friday and we travel home for family to share in the festivities.  Mom Scott hosted a fabulous family birthday brunch for our girl and Mom threw a huge Welcome Salem party for her friends.  It was a great day!  Three years ago tomorrow we adopted Jonathan as a Scott forever and irrevocably, so tonight he chose to eat at none other than Souper Salad...a favorite simply because he gets to choose his menu and there is ice cream at the end...what a joy! 

We had a fantastic week and are enjoying the new pace of life, although Salem's nap schedule is a big question mark.  She is a play hard, sleep hard girl, but the hard sleeping is left to when the sun goes down. Please pray for her little ears.  She is on a second round of antibiotics and has a recheck next Wednesday.  She fails to complain, so we won't either.

Continue to check in.  I am working on going to bed early and rising the same so I can write more.  I have is my outlet.  I miss it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Our Week's Adventures

Currently I am listening to the unhappy cries of an over tired baby on a Sunday afternoon.  She falls asleep in the sling at church, tired and in need of rest, yet she is in that in between stage of not needing a morning nap everyday.  So when she is tired for her afternoon nap, she doesn't think she should be, doesn't want to be held, rocked or laid down in her crib.  So she cries, rubbing those sweet almond eyes.  Soon she will be asleep, and in the time it takes her to, I am trying to snag some computer time to write and inform you all of our latest happenings.

This week has been a much better week for all of us.  Daddy is feeling better, Salem finished her antibiotic this morning, Mommy is getting rest and Jonathan is beginning to settle into being a big brother.  He is doing great, I must say.  He loves Salem so much and shows it in his Jonathan type affection by ambushing her with a googly face and love hugs that resemble what might be interpreted by an onlooker as a tackle with a kiss.  Her cheeks are too tempting for him not to squish and her outstretched arms are perfect for shaking.  None of this is done with spite.  We detect no jealousy about him in her joining our family, but learning to care well for his little sister requires guidance and correction.  I look forward to the day when he is the one requesting others to be gentle with her.  I long to see his brotherly affection take the form of a protector.  That is our prayer for him.

It has been a joy watching Jonathan begin to understand his role as helper to mommy.  Needless to say, we have had a few mornings of hijacked outings due his need to develop an appreciation for mommy's time.  He has improved tremendously and getting out of the house is not such an ordeal anymore.  In saying this, I know more mornings like these are ahead, not completely behind us.  But we are taking this in stride and learning along the way.  He has been so willing to find ways to spend time independently while mommy is feeding Salem or putting her down for a nap.  The other day, while he was in his room (by his own choice...not during room time) he took it upon himself to build with his blocks.  This has not been something he does much of at home, so it delighted me to see him creating adventure within the confines of his wooden toys.  After a trip to the potty with Salem, I emerged from the bathroom to see him at the threshold of his door surrounded by intricate towers and tunnels.  It stopped me in my tracks and I stood there for a few second admiring the young man he is becoming.  He invited me in, so sliding Salem into her Johnny-Jump-Up, I joined his adventure on the floor, marveling at his imagination.  I love this kid!

On the heels of a long potty training adventure with Jonathan, I was ready to sit back and enjoy the diaper days again before letting Salem train herself.  I have learned much about the difference between curiosity and readiness and was fully prepared to let Salem take the lead.  Little did I expect her lead to be keeping her diapers dry so mommy would take her to the potty.  This is how she greeted us when we first met her, as a result of her foster mom's efforts to train her the Chinese way.  We weren't sure how much we would continue the process, but as we have spent almost a month with her, we are finding that the early training has been a blessing and are continuing the routine as it best fits our family.  We go through about 2-3 diapers a day with an occasional dry diaper all day.  The more we are home, the cleaner she stays as we are able to take her regularly.  She knows when she needs to go and will do so when sat on the potty.  We found out very quickly that she is less than subtle when she needs to poop.  In China, she would turn red-faced and grunt so loudly that the whole room knew what was happening.  We found this hysterical, but soon found it to be helpful in knowing when to sit her on the pot.  I think we have had maybe four or five dirty diapers in the past few weeks!  It is a blessing in many ways.  We are saving money on diapers and she has already passed the point of fearing elimination outside of her diaper.  She still wets at night and during naps, as to be expected developmentally, but is used to the routine.  Another blessing has been the fact that Jonathan is encouraged by it and continues to love potty time.  There has been some regression, but nothing like what we imagined.

Potty time has been a bonding experience, too.  In efforts to keep her enjoying the time waiting , we sing songs and play games.  Yesterday, after much practice and encouragement, she decided to clap her hands:)  I love seeing her learn new things.  I can see her understanding more and more of what we are saying and responding with her own communication.  Today she said, "all done" in her baby babble after pee peeing.  She knows when she is finished and is ready to move on to more fun outside of the bathroom.  Just over the past few days I have noticed her picking up on some sign language we have been using with her.  This is encouraging and helpful. 

Wednesday, we had a sweet surprise reunion at the Bethany office.  Having intended on going earlier in the week to introduce Salem to the ladies, we understandably had a rough go at getting there in our transition back home.  So, Drew took the morning and we all went together.  As we walked in the door, immediately we saw Mary, our first case worker that help us put together our home study and dossier 7 years ago.  Since then, she has changed postions and works in another branch of the ministry.  We had a special bond, so seeing her go was sad.  Running into her with Salem in arms was a special unexpected blessing!  She hadn't been to our office in months and just happened to be there for a meeting that morning.  God was kind to reunite us and allow her to see the fruit of her labor with us so long ago.  Each person who had worked toward our becoming a family and who had been a part of Salem's journey was there.  Thank you, Lord, for these women who work so hard to care for children and women.  We are blessed to be a Bethany family!

Friday, Daddy was home, so we took an adventure to the pool.  Jonathan has been pining to go, but we had to wait until mommy had help.  He understood and was delighted in our announcement that morning. In our first few weeks of having Salem, she showed great contempt for water in any form, but after Gommy's gentle encouragement to play in a bowl with toys, she quickly transferred the fun to her bath time and readily looks forward to it now.  She even lets us pour water over her hair, blinks and wipes her eyes and goes about her business splashing and pouring.  So, with her cute little blue ballerina bathing suit tucked next to Jonathan's shark swim trunks, we headed to the Y in hopeful anticipation that she would see the pool as just a big old bathtub.  Delightfully, she did and we had a great first swim.  As soon as we put her in the pool she splashed with smiles and her little legs started trolling like a duckling.  Just like her brother, she was born to swim:)  We had a float that was given to us when Jonathan was a baby, but he never used it as he was too top heavy and would fall face first into the water.  Salem, however, fit inside of it as if it were made for her and she floated along, legs kicking, watching her brother belly flop from the sides.

Salem is doing exceptionally well.  The only area where she has struggled on a daily basis has been sleeping in her crib.  When she is asleep, she rests well, but falling asleep has been difficult.  She would much more prefer to fall asleep rocking or in mommy's sling.  While we are home, I am trying to train her to soothe herself in her crib.  It has been met with crying, but slowly we are seeing her feel more comfortable and happy.  In fact, this morning I heard sweet coos coming from her room and realized that she had been awake for a while playing.  She woke up happy with no crying!  What a way to begin our Sunday morning:)

For those of you who tuned into our Sunday adventures last week, I am pleased to say that today went well!  We changed up our getting ready routine and managed to get out of the house by 8:50...a new record!  We were the first to Sunday School and all had a great time.  Jonathan enjoyed his class and mommy and Salem were able to reunite with the Mentoring Moms class that I have missed so.  Jonathan was helpful and participated in worship singing and even snuggling a little.  Thank you, Lord, for these blessings!

More pictures and videos will be added soon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Time Flies

Two weeks have passed since we landed in Chattanooga with Salem.  This shook me last night.  The time has moved at warp speed and I am finding myself suddenly realizing that the well meaning words "it goes by so quickly" are TRUE!  I remember as a little girl my Gommy telling me that when you get older, times moves more quickly.  I have thought of this over the years.  When it first hit my young ears, I was amazed at the concept, accepting it as truth from a lady who had lived a long time.  As I have grown older, that memory has come back as I have pondered numerous times the seemingly rapid pace of life as an adult.  Summers used to feel like half a year, balancing out the months of trudging through school, only to emerge at the pool again.  Days playing in the attic playroom lasted for what seemed like days as Allyson and I lived in the life and times of Strawberry Shortcake, listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas while fishing for more of that black paper to create yet another Brite Light masterpiece.  Yet, even while enjoying the seamless time of play and adventure, I always wished for time to move faster.

As a mommy, the time that I wished away is coveted now.  If only to have a few more hour in the day.  Time spent in adventure remains forefront, as life is still that.  Yet, now it is laced with trains and flying machines chasing each other through tunnels, cleaning poop from the floor and behinds, Goliath being taken down by a Kindermusik ribbon, refereeing small mishaps of a one and three year old, watching Buzz Lightyear zoom through the house being chased by an "angry dog", wiping faces, stumbling upon stacking cups treacherously sprawled out among the house feverishly searching for one another, baby doll strollers racing through the halls, and two children learning to love each other well.  Everyday is a new adventure.  As the time speeds along, may I embrace what God has sent to me.  And may the time that God has ordained for my days be spent well with these two blessings, my sweet man by my side, and the reassurance of His sovereign love for me.  More adventures to come...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Sunday of Counting it Joy

The past few days I have wanted to write, but the time and words have eluded me.  In the adjustment, I find myself making lists, doing laundry, feeding sweet little faces, helping a rambunctious little boy learn to be gentle with his little sister, and mentally trying figure out the next step of my day.  Yesterday was good.  On the heels of a few very exhausting days, we are seeing fruit in our son.  What a joy it is to watch a young man make wise choices and see the blessing! 

Salem is doing GREAT.  She is adjusting tremendously well and getting used to her new surroundings.  Her doctors visit last week confirmed what we suspected to be an ear infection, so she is on the mend and moving around the house in her cute little scoot.  If there were any part of me that was tempted to push her little leg underneath her to try to train her to crawl, I am not listening to it.  I know it will only last a few more weeks, and then she will be walking.  I am trying to be more laid back as a mother this time.  The Lord has taught me so much over the past three and a half years, and I can see the result of much refining in me...praise God!  Of course, there are always the days of utter failure to bring glory to God, but I am learning to be humbled by them, seek the merciful face of my Father, and move on in grace.  And I am learning to be merciful to my children.  Thank you, Lord, for your example and the very clear picture you draw for me of your love through parenting.

This past Sunday was our first Sunday flying solo.  Well, sort of.  In the months leading up to our trip to China, I struggled with fear and worry over Sunday mornings.  They have been a challenge to say the least.  In my limited vision, I wondered how in the world I could train two children to be an active part of our church worship.  I love having my children with me in worship as our church gathers each week.  This being said, I also recognize it as a challenge and sometimes feel very weary in the process.  I have yet to listen to the Revelation series downloaded on my Zune, for I missed it entirely in the trips to the bathroom and loving correction needed.  I have been tempted to feel despair in this, but am learning to count it all joy and carve time out of my days to hear it.  In fact, what a wonderful surprise to be met face to face with the teaching of James as I entered the balcony of our church building, Salem tucked in the sling on my hip, with Jonathan's hand held firmly in mine. 

Our morning had gone smoothly.  The mental schedule had played out nicely through wake times and breakfast.  Getting dressed was surprisingly pleasant as Jonathan was extremely helpful to me in juggling two kiddos.  Yet, on our way out the door, with barking dogs and a cattle dog who loves to herd the Scotties up and down the fence next door, the clear instructions given to Jonathan to walk straight to the car and wait for me were met with the obvious distraction.  He followed Cody to the backyard looking behind him at me.  Hearing my clear instruction again, he chose adventure.  In the moment, having broken my momentum of moving toward an on time arrival at Sunday School, I felt frustration rise.  I put Salem in her car seat and literally chased my son around the backyard until my longer legs caught up with his, in heels I must add.  Our drive to church was met with emotion that I had not anticipated in the early parts of our compliant morning and I felt once again the need of the Spirit of Christ to invade me.  If there was any pride within me linked to the morning so far, it had flown out the window as we drove down the freeway in tears, both of us.  The commands "stop" and "come here" are a challenge for Jonathan to obey.  He is learning, but slowly, and for that reason, while walking, his hand remained in mine for the remainder of the day. 

So, as you can imagine, to hear the message of James, was fitting and much needed.  As I relayed the morning while hearing Pastor David's admonishments, the Lord helped me to see clearly how I could have responded differently, and further humbled me.  The fact that I was able to hear the message in it's entirety was a huge blessing.  It has been months!  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for a husband who is willing to not only lead our church body into the presence and worship of our great King, but also to be fully present with us when he can.  As Salem fell asleep in the sling and Jonathan sat next to daddy, I was able to soak in the Word and be refined and changed. In the moments of frustration much like those I met face to face that morning in our yard, I am learning to count them joy, for they are producing in me a steadfast perseverance leading to completion.  Once again, I am "Finding Salem" in my days and am grateful for the blessing. 

Friday, January 13, 2012


I guess I should mention, in my journey of humility this week, that my valiant efforts to dodge the shames and blatant opinions given by the elderly Chinese women regarding my clothing choices for my child, have met their demise.  I laugh at it now, but in the moment, I felt an initial "Oh, Man!" run through my head and felt a tinge of failure.  What was ironic about it was twofold.  It was probably one of the lasts moments of our trip that it could have happened, and I was trying to communicate non verbally to them in the process.  As we arrived in Shanghai, we had to visit the baggage claim before walking to the airport hotel.  I had Salem bundled in her thick blue fleece jacket, stuffed in the blue sling, wearing a navy blue onesie underneath.  As we were waiting for our bags, a group of four ladies came over to us and were watching us, smiling and talking amongst themselves.  There were gesturing to one another, obviously making comments about her, and as her mother, I was trying to discern what what being said about my child.  I had eliminated the chance that it was about her lack of clothing, because I knew she was well dressed and plenty warm, so I began to assume that they were commenting on the sling that had her bundled so tightly.  We received concerned looks and suggestions to remove her from the device earlier in the week when her legs looked bound and too scrunched for a saleslady's liking.  I should mention that she was also trying to sell us a front carrier that allowed legs to be free to dangle.  We chalked it up to her wanting a sale, but it left me wondering what others thought of this foreigner's way of transporting her child.  For this reason, I wondered the same in the midst of the baggage claim lady's snickering.  Then, it occurred to me that Salem was wearing nothing but blue.  Are they wondering if this is a boy?  Feeling rather warm myself and wanting to show them the sweet little girl flowers on the front of blue onesie, I removed her coat.  Before I could point to the floral design on the front, they started chiding and one lady grabbed the sleeve of her shirt between her thumb and forefinger and shook her head at me.  At that moment, the joy of showing them my daughter subsided as I looked acknowledging their concern, then quietly turned around and put on her coat.  Well, almost.  We laughed it off, but I did feel a little pride that had been welling up inside me shrivel up into a little ball.  Such blessings are good for our souls:)

The emotions of our homecoming were plenty, all jumbled up into a undecipherable ball of the unknown.  We were waiting to be united with family and to introduce a young man to his new little sister.  With this we felt excited.  However, we were saying goodbye to this journey and a concentrated time with just Salem.  The time we spent bonding was precious and I knew that the quantity of the time we had spent together would be different forever.  Wondering how we would adjust, both in sleeping and waking hours left me nervous and weary at just the thought.  On our last two flights from New York and Atlanta, Salem slept like a rock, sprawled out on her back across our two laps, much like my first sight of her in Nanchung.  She slept soundly, completely unaware of her newfound citizenship and future here.  Though for us, it was epic.

As we landed in Chattanooga, I said a prayer of thanks for God's protection of us and waited for the plane to empty.  At the back of the cabin, we would be the last off and the last through the doors of the terminal to our waiting entourage. Sweetly, we were met with familiar faces of family and friends, snapping pictures and holding signs.  Jonathan was waiting, watching intently, crouched down like a little tiger cub waiting to pounce on it's playmate.  As we made our way closer to him, he broke free of arms to run toward us.  He was yelling, in a sweet, happy giggle, "Mommy! Daddy! Salem!"  As we embraced, our family was made complete.  As I pulled away to look at him, he seemed enormous as if he'd grown four inches while we were gone.  This completely took me by surprise.  My baby was so big! The little boy we left two and a half weeks ago, was different and inwardly I grieved momentarily that we had missed that time with him.  Slowly, we made our way around to hug the necks of such wonderful loved ones who would subject themselves and their children to less sleep for the sake of our welcome.  To those who were there, thank you for making it special.

As the crowd dwindled we made our way to the car.  We snapped both children into their carseats.  Salem wasn't sure what to do, as she had been allowed to squirm and move about during our travel in China.  I sat between them, glad to be in reach of both children at once.  We comforted Salem as the restriction, darkness and street lights were strange to her.  Then we pulled into our driveway.  Home at last!  At midnight, we tucked them into their beds and said goodnight.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh, and we have a sleeping baby!

It is 7:20, and Salem is still asleep!  We are grateful for rest and thank you for your prayers regarding this! 

A Hard Lesson in Exhaustion

It is a grievous feeling to hurt those you love and to feel the weight of wrong choices.  Exhaustion has set in and when it visits our home, it would be wise for us to be on guard.  Feelings are heightened and words are flung about without filters or discernment, often landing in the face of the undeserving.  On guard, I was not.  Lacking sleep and energy, my day began with a self-sufficient attitude of getting things done and holding my home together.  Although my heart had been meditating on the grace of the Lord in my weaknesses and brokenness, the overwhelming start to my day, met with angry "NOs!" and clear defiance,  caused my self-sufficiency to crack and I fell apart.  Sadly in the midst of this breakdown, my tongue was allowed to flow freely towards those most helpful to me.  With no excuses for my sin, and after a deeply humbled apology, I realized that there is no beauty in self-sufficiency.  My brokenness was exposed, but Christ was definitely not given glory.  The cracks in my cistern were clogged with thoughts and feeling of what I needed to say, with no regard for the feelings of others.  Yet, what beauty there is in forgiveness!  The grace of those around me today was undeserved, but I am grateful.  I am left this morning with a need for Christ to be my portion and sufficiency, as I should have been yesterday in my impulsiveness. 

The Lord gently led me to a passage in 2 Chronicles this morning.  The burden most heavy on my heart this morning is for my son.  The Lord was kind to give me a banner for him.  He gave me a portion of His word to pray over him and to meditate on the Lord's faithfulness in the midst of battle.  I am thankful for the words found in the 20th chapter.  Verses 15-17 give hope to my heart.  "Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed in this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God' will not need to fight in this battle.  Stand firm, hold your position and see the salvation of the Lord on your not be afraid and do not be dismayed...the Lord will be with you."  On behalf of Jonathan's heart, I believe and claim God's faithfulness.  The battle is the Lord's and I will stand my position and trust.  Lord, give me a gentle and quiet spirit and a gracious heart toward those I love.  Be glorified in me and unclog the selfish mud packed in the cracks of my cistern.  Shine through and gain glory for Yourself. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Blessing of Brokenness

Once again, I have been awoken by a crying baby.  My body seems to crash easily in the evening throwing me into deep sleep, and I fell asleep fully expecting an uninterrupted night.  At the sound of tears, I glanced at the clock to see one something on my clock.  Really?  Maybe this will pass.  She did this last night then fell back asleep.  No, the cries intensified and my loving husband rolled out of bed to check on her distress.  If it were me, I would have let her cry.  I am trying to train her body to eat in the morning and sleep at night.  This having worked yesterday, I assumed the jet lag was over.  Not so much.  The compassion of a father heard her hunger through the tears and fed her a full bottle which was gone in minutes.  She was famished!  The downside...her clock has been reset.  So has mine.  I took over in the rocker so he could sleep, took her to the potty then back to soothe her back into dreamland.  Nope...she was fully awake.  So I just held her in the dark and rocked.  She flopped back and forth like a little fishy, rubbing her eyes and grabbing my face in an attempt to play even though she was exhausted.  After laying her in her crib and waiting for her to fall asleep, I was met with more cries.  She must wonder what this strange place is...the new shadows, the emptiness of the room, the bars on her crib.  Finally, the dries turned to whimpers then subsided into sleep again.  Time for coffee and time with the Lord. 

I have been reading a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss over the past few months called Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness.  It has been a welcome companion, yet more so in the past few days.  This morning I came to a deeper appreciation for my own brokenness and the joy that it can bring when fully embraced.  In praying a brokenness over my son, I came to realize the blessing my own brokenness brings to my family.  As I allow myself to be broken before the Father, that is when the Spirit can shine through.  I have fully been aware of my weaknesses and have learned to count them as joy knowing that in my weaknesses, Jesus is made strong.  But today, the relevance felt much deeper and saturated my heart.  After laying in bed this morning making a mental list of things needing to be done and feeling overwhelmed by the lack of control I have to accomplish them, the Lord was kind to help me rejoice in that and be thankful that my life is full of chaos and imperfections.  He changed my perspective and gave me deep joy.  Suddenly, my heart was thankful and hopeful for my day and my family.  Lord, make me like a broken cistern whose cracks and crevices make way for your light to shine through.  May I see those as a grace and embrace them for the sake of your power through me. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home at last!

(This post was started in the wee hours of the morning after being woken at 3:30 by a jet-lagged baby)

This morning, I am by myself. It is 6:32 am and I am blessed beyond measure. Salem came home last night. She is here, in Chattanooga, fully apart of our family. Suddenly it dawned on me that this long chapter of our lives is over. We have waited for so long and now it is here. All the waiting is in the past. What awaits? Adventure for sure. I am overwhelmed at the responsibility I feel as a mommy to two children now. I am sure the nervousness I feel is so common among mothers that me mentioning it seems cliché, but I do feel that deeply. I had to lay myself on the bed this morning and surrender my day to Him through tears, and outpouring of gratitude and laying down of fears. He ordained this and brought to fruition and He will give me everything I need to fulfill his purposes through me. Reminding myself of Jeremiah 29:11 brought tears to my eyes. So often I feel inadequate and ill-equipped as a parent. Hearing the Lord wash these words over me this morning as I reflected on their impact for my children was humbling. Yet, in the midst of that the Lord brought comfort. He has made me a part of His plan to bring hope to my children. He has given me a role in prospering their lives. Without His plan of adoption, both of my children would have no family. Thank you, Lord, for placing adoption on our hearts and choosing to build our family this way. It is an amazing adventure. I am struck by the love of my heavenly Father who adopted me, took me in as an heir, and gave me hope. Lord, today, help me to be Jesus to my children. Tomorrow, help me do it again, and when I wake up with every day that you choose to bless me, be Christ through me to them. Show them Your hope and the blessing of being its recipients. 

(Written this morning)
I am struck this morning by the kindness of my Heavenly Father to wake me early.  To feel thankfulness over this is comical to me as sleep has been a coveted activity around our house lately.  It seems that most are adjusting to the new way of life, time zone, and family dynamics.  Is is easy for me to wake early, expecting to hear footsteps or a cry from the room across the hall, unable to go back to sleep knowing that the day is closing in on me.  In those moments, I am tempted to fear or allow the overwhelming thoughts to haunt me.  This morning, I knew that lying there in my pool of anxiety would be detrimental to my day.  Gently the Lord coaxed me from my pillow and to His side.  I love waking before my family.  Why it is not a compulsion every day, I don't know.  The Lord never leaves me disappointed in the loss of sleep.  In contrast, I feel refreshed and am equipped with joy in my day.  I am deeply aware of my need for Him, of my need to be in His Word and to drink from the well of Life.  

I am finding joy in praying over my son today.  I am seeing the need for this more and more and my intentions are finally becoming action on my part.  I am praying for brokenness over him.  Not a brokenness of spirit or body, but of his strong will.  I am praying for the Spirit of God to invade his little hardened heart, and that the Lord will give me insight to see signs of softening.  In those moments, may I not simply sigh with relief and go about my day.  May I rejoice and speak life into his heart as the window God is creating opens that opportunity for him to respond and grab hold of the life God has for him. I am praying for wisdom to see this and the words to say that his little three year old heart will understand and receive.  He is precious and loved and is the sweetest big brother.  He loves Salem.  It is evident in the ways he kisses her, tries to pick her up, and protectively checks on her as she sleeps.  Adjusting to mommy and daddy being home and a new sister must be hard for him.  But he is embracing it, and we are seeing our family begin to take form into a normalcy that will never be the same as before. 

Finding Salem is much more than finally welcoming our daughter into our family. "Salem" means a peace through being made whole.  Our lives are about Jesus taken what has been broken and making us whole through the Life that He offers.  As I say goodbye to the season of waiting, I embrace the new season of finding wholeness through Christ in my life and fostering it in the lives of my family.  Though our adoption journey has come to an end, I will continue to write.  It has been through this blog that I have found a new love and outlet for creativity and documenting our lives here at the Scott house.   Thanks to all who have joined the journey.  We love you!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Wrapping up in Guangzhou: Consulate Day

This post was started on Thursday night, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

Currently we are airborne, somewhere over the northern most parts of the globe. Our plane is not equipped with the gadgets we had on the Delta flight two weeks ago, so we aren't able to access GPS capability at the touch of a finger. Salem is being greatly entertained by a sweet little 5 year old girl, giving mommy and daddy's arms a rest from our little froggy. Johnny-Jump-Up, you just wait! We were able to secure a bassinet seat for the long flight tonight, which has been amazing. Not only do we get to lie Salem down to sleep right in front of us, but I also get a break from the hot water bottle sleeping in the sling on a plane with no air control from the seats. She is not the same clingy child we met nine days ago. I am just ready to be home, get her on a routine and give her room to play. Carpet may be a new texture for her. All she's felt here is a fluffy bed, mommy and daddy holding her and her crib. She did play in the play room one day, but it was that hard, flat carpet facade over concrete. The shaggy stuff at home should be a delight!

It's been a few days since we've posted mostly because I played catch up the day before we left, packing was quite time consuming and last night we crashed after a late flight to Shanghai. So let me back up to Tuesday, the day of our U.S. Consulate appointment.

Wenxi wanted us downstairs at 7:40. After waking alone without the sound of the alarm, we both scurried to get ready then wake Salem and put together a warm, yet appropriate outfit for her. We have been encouraged to dress nicely for this day. I felt excited to finally put on the one outfit that I packed for this day for two reasons, one, to show honor towards those at the Consulate, and two, to justify the amount of space it consumed on my suitcase.   

This looks nothing like the government office I expected

Waiting to enter the consulate

Photo of questionable legality in the lobby

We met the other families downstairs and to our surprise, instead of the sardine bus we had been squeezing into over the past few days, an enormous charter bus was waiting to pick us up. I thought there would be more families with us, but it turned out that only four families went. The others had appointments later that day or the following day. Arriving at the Consulate building, we were taken immediately to a waiting line that had apparently been forming since 7:30 that morning. With kids in tow and a long line ahead, we expected it to take a few hours. Soon we followed Wenxi past the line to a second line. Thankfully, our appointment times had secured us early spots. Adoptive families were hurried through, sent through security, and emptied into a waiting area much like the DMV; chairs, booths with workers behind glass, and delightfully, a place for children to play while waiting. Some of the older ones took the liberty of exerting their pent up energy. We sat there with Salem on our lap, paperwork in hand, not knowing what to expect. We had heard good stories about the process, but there is always this part of you that is double checking and making sure that we have done everything on our parts for an uneventful process. Once everyone had found a chair, a woman stepped up to one of the windows. Through a small microphone over the loud speaker she welcomed us and gave us instructions for the appointments. At her prompt we stood up, raised our right hands, and took an oath that once recited ensured our child's immigration status. Up until this point, at the times I most expected to feel emotional with tears welling in my eyes, I did not. But, in this moment, surprisingly, they came. It was a flood of emotion that caught me off guard. Tears streamed down my face as I began to grasp the magnitude of what was happening. We were making her our daughter forever. In the few moments it took to recite the words the woman fed to us, Salem became an American citizen on paper, and as soon as she would land in New York, her citizenship would be complete. She was coming home! As I glanced over at Drew, I knew he was feeling the same as I watched him wipe his eyes and stand tall as a proud father of a little girl. He said it was the first time that sterile bureaucracy had ever made him cry. 

Face it - clowns are scary everywhere

Salem feasts on the trappings of American citizenship

In our attempt to assure Salem of her worth and beauty in a brand new world of diverse faces and voices, we wanted to spend some time in Guangzhou looking for an Asian doll, one with features much like hers. With princesses and Barbie dolls at every turn of the toy stores in America, we wanted to find one unique doll that she could call her own and relate to in whatever ways a little girl does. All week we have looked forward to finding one and we heard from another adoptive family that there was a toy market nearby. Wenxi, along with three other familes, braved the subway on a holiday week to explore one of the top toy manufacturer's playground. Once again, we should have not allowed our expectations to proceed us. What we found was a massive, overcrowded, plethera of booths selling anything from roller blades to rubber training chopsticks. We did however manage to stumble upon a few doll stores, but to our disappointment, Asian dolls were not on the market. The shelves were lined with blonde caucasian girls looking stone-faced and cloned with the occasional brunette or African toned doll. It amazed us how difficult it was to find a doll resembling the features of a nation with one of the highest population rates worldwide. Either someone has missed the seemingly obvious marketing opportunity or America and it's adea of beauty has infiltrated and haunted the Asian world. I guess it can't be ignored that most of those dolls, if not purchased in country for Asian children to play with, will eventually make their way to America where "beauty" and dolls are over-priced. We left that day tired with only a panda puppet to bring home, but if you know Drew, this was a win. Interestingly enough, at dinner the night before, over beef and pork noodle soup we ran into Betty Hui, our friend adopting Ruth and Bethany. After lamenting over our multiple unsuccessful trips doll shopping, she then told us that while growing up in China, she herself never had an Asian doll. Hers were always blonde caucasian and she never thought twice about it. If my daughter never has an Asian doll and turns out to be a woman of such character and beauty of Betty, we will be blessed beyond measure! So, we left China without a doll in our suitcase less concerned about this petty need to show Salem her worth in a stuffed plastic toy. What secures her worth cannot be bought or is a priceless treasure, and those who find it will never be disappointed.

That night we had a last hurrah dinner with the Johnsons at Food Street then hit the suitcases packing. We woke early and met the Johnsons and Andersons over breakfast. It would be our last meal together.  A little later, we met them for a brief photo shoot with all the girls in the China Hotel courtyard. Of course, it turned out to be the coldest day in Guangzhou. But it was great to grab a few final pictures of the girls and their precious families. What blessings they have been to us these past few weeks! God has been so kind to plant these couples in our path for this special occasion. The bond we share cannot be manufactured and will leave lasting memories. We will miss them, and already do as I write this post. They have been pioneers and companions on this journey and we love them, their children, and their heart for adoption. We look forward to a day when we and our children will meet again and share their stories. When that will be, I don't know, but with the Lord's kindness going before us, I feel sure we will see each other again this side of heaven. I know we will through pictures and skype. Whether we get to hug their necks and see our children play together is yet to be determined. But for now, we are grateful they were there to share with us the homecoming of our daughters. 

At 2:00 we met Wenxi and the other familes in the lobby to checkout. We said good bye to the Andersons and hopped in the van with luggage in tow to the U.S. Consolate for Wenxi to pick up our children's immigration visas. We sat there for an hour and a half, but enjoyed every minute of our last conversations with Loren and Michelle. Salem did flips and summersaults wearing herself out for a nap as Quinn less enthusiastically displayed her sweetness in mommy's lap. From there we hit the road for the airport where the travel adventure began. We flew to Shanghai with the Johnsons and stayed in the airport hotel which could have easily been mistaken for the set of Doctor Who. We settled down, said our goodbyes, made a makeshift crib for Salem with the beds pushed against the wall and crashed before an early morning. We would say goodbye to Salem's homeland. It was bittersweet. Now that we were packed and in tow towards home, we wanted the trip to go quickly, but so much was left unseen. We hope to return one day with our family to visit where Salem is from and to celebrate her culture up close again. What an adventure this has been.

Amy enters the time portal leading to our room

Shanghai Airport at night - doubles as International Space Station

The shower doubles as a transporter bay

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sorry for the delay

We have safely arrived home and are so thankful to everyone who kept up with us and prayed for us. I'm sorry that we haven't posted in several days. Two days of traveling and two days of recovering still has us in a weary state, but Amy is planning on posting an update by tomorrow night. I'll also get our last China days and our homecoming pics up. Please check back with us then.

If you know us on Facebook, please check out the album of homecoming pics taken by Diana Simpson. I shared them on my profile tonight. Find me at

We had our family Christmas last night and this morning. Jonathan is delighted with his sister, and she is adjusting well. The only issue we have is her tendency not to sleep through the night. We hope that will improve as we move forward. If not, I'll keep shopping at Walmart around 4:30 am - you won't believe how short the lines are!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Family unites in Chattanooga tonight!

Tonight, Drew, Amy and Salem join big brother Jonathan in Chattanooga TN. Please pray for safe travels and uneventful flights. They are currently en route from Shanghai to JFK (NY). They should land in Tennessee before 10pm tonight. Thanks for caring and praying!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Morning Walk in Guangzhou

Big thanks to Chris for keeping our blog up. I caught a good connection this morning (rare to be this good) and thought I'd post some pics I took on a stroll while Salem was napping. 

Waiting for Delivery

Back Streets in Guangzhou

Chinese New Year supplies

Local oranges for sale

Meat market on a TV tray

Turtles, lizards and eels! Oh my!

Purchasing eel for dinner

Fresh meat and produce

Friendly duck buyer

11am tea time

CNY Lanterns everywhere

This probably says something about the goats

The Five Goats of Guangzhou

The symbol of Guangzhou

Bubble Boy

Families at the Goat statue

Good friends

Watching for traffic

Two year old with mama

Street vendor

Subway entrance

Riding the subway

They're grrrrreat here, too

Popular Guangzhou attraction

Salem at 100% happy

Update from Amy

Daddy Car Seat

The Crew goes shopping (roll soundtrack)

Tonight it feels as if I am in high school again with a looming paper needing to be written. Tomorrow is the due date and I am pulling an all nighter. Not that I dislike blogging, but in the midst of packing and a long day of last minute doll shopping (which ended up a fail) I have seem to successfully acquire another sore throat and cough. Currently, I have cough medicine coursing through my veins and a sucret soothing the pain. Thankfully, the little girl asleep next to me is a really good sleeper. Otherwise, we would be in for a long night with my hacking up a lung.
Pearl Market

A seriously big pearl market

Mailynn Daifu likes the bling

Mommy makes a friend. Can you guess how?

Yesterday's adventures were many including shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Oh, and Drew managed to squeeze in a half hour photo shoot of the local museum. In the morning, we returned to the island to have the older kid's TB tests checked and all came out negative...whew! Then we were given 20 minutes to last minute shop on the island. I had three stops to make. Drew ran to the other side to pick up some art we had done for Salem, I ran to the fabric store to get silk and diapers (somehow that sound funny to then a quick shot over to Jenny's to find squeaky shoes. Yes, I have been pinned the obsessive shoe shopper by none other than my own beloved. But, hey, when you can wheel and deal down to $3 to $5 a pair, it is a no brainer, especially with no girl cousin hand-me-downs coming our way. It is our turn to provide those, with a little niece on the way:) Upon boarding the sardine van again, we were swept off to the local pearl market to find Salem a special necklace for her wedding day.

Salesmen on bikes

Drew is usually in the back

Improvised feeding

After the shopping spree, Wenxi took us to the Guangzhou Museum where we whizzed through in record time, just pausing long enough for Drew to snag pictures and to watch a few local artist's painting techniques.
When we returned to the hotel, each family went their own way allowing for afternoon naps, satisfying hungry bellies, or continuing adventures in the wild. Drew and I opted for the wild and found our way under and over the city streets to a local children's market. Our friend's found great deals for Daifu (Meilynn) the other day so we thought we would check it out. All we walked away with were a few cute bibs for Salem. Drew talked me down from buying the cute little riding potty, only because we would of had to figure out how to pack it. The froggy potty at home will have to do. On our way back we returned to a market down the street from our hotel. We went there a few days ago looking for a suitcase for Salem, but the prices were too high. Drew took another crack at lowering their price and walked away with a pink hardcover for no more than he had intended to spend. He drove a hard bargain, walking away seven times before the lady met his price. And I found another pair of shoes:)

Yes, that's embroidery. Amazing

Guangzhou Museum

Bone Carving

Salem is unimpressed

New Years Lanterns

Back at the hotel, we did a final paperwork check with our Guangzhou contact, WenXi. With everything in order (not a small point of stress up to this point, but not a major one either), we are ready for the Consulate visit. 

Final check of paperwork

Final check of stacking cups

The cups are a favorite

Drew and WenXi - ready to go

Calling it a day on the town, we hit the hotel restaurant "Food Street" for a crack at their version of our newest obsession, noodle soup. It's easy to say we were spoiled in Nanchang as the noodles anywhere since have failed to equal their flavor or spice. We miss you, noodle bar! However, they sufficed and we went to bed satisfied and thankful for another day here in Guangzhou. Our attempt to get Salem in bed early seemed a win, until I laid her down in her crib. Her eyes popped wide open as if it were morning and for the next hour she played in her crib on her back happily. This was the first time she hadn't cried in this situation, so we went about our business. At 9:30, we had a little pow wow and mommy called it a night. She submitted on my shoulder and was out like a light.
Out for a walk

Salem is not into shopping at this point

Our time is closing in and we feel an urgency to be fully present here for the remaining time we have. Today was another wonderful day and we will update tomorrow morning. Now, we return to packing, a strategic sport here in China. The pink suitcase is helping tremendously. Goodnight.