Friday, August 27, 2010

Fun photos

Our precious gift...

the kids in their outfits from China

Emily's first visit to Krispy Kreme...

Yes, that's a banana...banana first, then donuts! :)

"quick take the photo...Emily is actually happy while Daddy is holding her"

already listening to itunes :)

more fun photos

Karis loves for her and Emily to dress alike...she says they are "twinkie sisters"

I was taking a picture of Karis & Emily in their matching outfits and Caleb came outside in his blue and brown (I guess Karis is not the only one that wants to match her new sister)

Caleb & Emily at Caleb's 7th bday celebration at a water park

"twinkie sisters"

having fun in the sink...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

We are home!

We are finally home! The fact that it has taken us 2 weeks to blog, should explain a little bit of how crazy and exhausting our days have been. Overall, it has been good...just a lot of adjustments.
I'll try to rewind a bit. We all survived the 14 1/2 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago and Emily became a US citizen as soon as our plane touched down. YAY! We had a brief layover and the excitement grew because we were so close to seeing Caleb & Karis and our family and friends. Thankfully, our flight to Little Rock was only 1 1/2 hours. There really are not words to explain how amazing it felt to hug and kiss our children that we had been apart from for way too long! They were so sweet to welcome Emily and she responded well to them (which has been an answer to our prayers). We were also welcomed by family and friends at the airport that did an amazing job of making us feel loved and missed!
The weekend was a blur as we were battling jet lag but we were just so glad to be home and in our own beds. Our sweet friends had also showered our home with love by making sure the house was clean, decorated with signs and balloons, stocked our fridge and pantry, and posted scripture everywhere (which I've loved). And we have been receiving amazing meals from friends 3 times a week. What a blessing!
The weekend flew by and we had to start school on Monday (because the curriculum we were using required our first day to begin August 16th)! CRAZY!!! Unfortunately, after a week of trying this curriculum plan, we "jumped ship" and decided to go a different route with homeschooling. :) Also, within the first week of being home, Caleb came down with strep throat (thankfully, no one else has gotten it).
Our second week, we took a little break from school and just let the children enjoy playing with Emily and that allowed us to "catch our breath" a bit. We had a couple of doctors appointments for Emily...which is the beginning steps for her cleft palate surgery (we'll explain more about that later).
So, that's a brief summary of what's been going on and a few "excuses" of why our blog has been neglected. :) Our next post will include more details about Emily...which I'm sure is what you have been waiting for.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

a step closer to home

We are packing again...our big dilemma is if we are going to have to purchase another suitcase to get all our things home??? We definitely over packed(a bad habit of mine) for our trip out here and we are somehow going home with more. But the problem for me (Julie) is that if I don't buy that certain item now, it's not like I can just run back over to China and pick it up later. :) We are just thankful to be one step closer to going home!

We haven't blogged much since being in Guangzhou, but our time here has been really good. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, being here with all the other adopting families has been encouraging and fun. We have shared a moment in time together and our fellowship has been sweet. Time at the White Swan has consisted of good eating, great shopping (actually too much), lots of playing with Emily and late night Magnum ice cream bars! Due to our numerous shopping excursions, Julie and I are starting to speak broken English to one another and we keep hearing in our sleep, "I give you best price." The good thing is that everything we are buying is made in China. :)

On a serious note, we have seen Emily come alive here and it has been a wondrous sight. She has laughed and played and shown a side of her personality that is engaging and funny. Unfortunately, she is still resistant to me (Brandon), but has welcomed me into her world at certain times throughout the day. We continue to pray for bonding to happen and believe it will come in time.

Today was a particular special day as we made the journey to the U.S. Consulate and signed the last official document and swore an oath to become the legal parents of Emily Love Yang Barnard! We really do love her and we are so blessed to be her parents. Can't wait to get her home and reunited with her brother and sister! We will try to post one more blog before leaving, but it may not happen. If not, we look forward to introducing you to Emily when we get home. We will probably be in "hiding" for a few days to allow time to be with Caleb and Karis (we sure have missed them!) and to allow Emily time to adjust to her new home.

Signing off from Guangzhou...

a few photos

(I love this photo of Emily because it shows how far she has come in just a few days...

(our sweet girl)

(Emily so proud of how she put the stacking cups on her feet)

(Going for Emily's medical "exam")

(the doctor that did Emily's ENT exam...I think it took 2 minutes total)

(already liking Mama's make-up)

(Emily saying "good-bye" to Wuhan City)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hello Guangzhou!

Although it was sad to say goodbye to Wuhan, it was equally awesome to say hello to Guangzhou! What a beautiful city and an incredible hotel. Emily survived her first flight (at least that we know of...) as Julie kept her occupied with snacks and a few toys. Julie and I also found a little comic relief in the guy sitting across the aisle from us. He was having some "nostril" issues and was solving them with his bare hand and his airline blanket, skillfully flicking his content into the aisle beside us and then finishing it off with repeated guttural sounds that made me want to say, "So what are you going to do with that now?" Fortunately, I was able to preserve this moment with our handy dandy flip camera and it should provide hours of enjoyment in the future. After sitting that close, Julie and I felt like we needed a lysol wipe. Anyway, the flight was not that bad. However, it was only a little over an hour. The big one looms ahead in the future.

Upon arriving in Guangzhou, we were glad to see all the other families that are in our adoption party. Lots of hugs, smiles, "oh your daughter/son is so cute", and just a unique bond that all of us will share for the rest of our lives. Since we have been here, Emily has opened up a little more and definitely loves her Mama. She is eating and sleeping like a champ and beginning to play like one too. Our hotel has a great playroom and we have even ventured out into the swimming pool. She loves the water!

Today we had our best play time with Emily. Julie had her smiling and belly laughing and we all sat on the bed and laughed for what seemed like an hour. The window we had into our little girl is becoming a door and we hope soon that it will become wide open spaces. Tonight, we enjoyed a great dinner with Terry Moore and it was an awesome time of fellowship and connecting. Terry took great care of us and we are grateful for his hospitality and friendship. We closed out the night with a couple of ice cream bars (which Emily loves as well), a bath and now bedtime.

We will check in a little later. Goodnight from Guangzhou.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Goodbye from Wuhan

Today is our last day in Wuhan. We have received our documents and we will fly into Guangzhou tonight. Yesterday was an eventful day as we were able to visit two meaningful places. Our first stop was Emily's orphanage where she lived for about 2 weeks before being placed in a foster home. Even after that placement, she still maintained contact with the caregivers in the orphanage. From our understanding, she visited at least once a week, or maybe just once a month. Either way, the caregivers we talked with yesterday knew her and spoke highly of her intelligence and her ability to organize (she must get that from Julie!). We saw only the outside of the orphanage and inside the reception office. I think Julie already posted the pictures. Our second site was where Emily was found. The setting was actually quite beautiful and the park was somewhat serene. It was also about 140 degrees (at least it felt that way) so we did not stay long. I think visiting those two sites reminded us just how long Emily's journey has been in just 18 short months of living. We also feel confident that she has been cared for by people who love her and will be even more so now that she is with her forever family.

If you have been following our updates, you know that Emily has certainly taken to Julie (at first out of necessity but more and more because she trusts her) and has been reluctant to connect with me. That still remains true, but we catch glimpses every so often. Last night at supper was one of those moments and again today at breakfast. There was a brief opening into the window of a little girl who loves to laugh and play and be loved in return. We soaked up the moments and then prayed for more to come. All in due time.

Would love to type more, but we are busy packing for our flight later today. Next time we check in, it will be from Guangzhou, the place where it all becomes official.

Thanks for lifting us up to the Father. We feel His pleasure in what we are doing and we feel a deeper appreciation of his adoption of us.

Grace and peace,

Brandon and Julie