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


(Emily Love)

(touring a museum in Wuhan...VERY thankful for the baby carrier that the Wilkerson's overnighted to us before we left...a life saver for me!!!)

(the girls sleeping arrangements) :)

(this is an expression of Emily's that we see often)


(walking to the orphanage)

(loving on my girl...I can't express how hot it is here!!!)

(Emily enjoying a snack)

(this was one of the ladies that works at the orphanage)

(sitting on the steps in front of the orphanage)

"Wuhan City Childrens Institute" (the orphanage)
"The Workers Palace" (location where Emily was found)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tired but Good...

As we are wrapping up our day and you are beginning yours, we wanted to give you a brief update. Yesterday morning we had to go back to the adoption office to finalize some of our paperwork. Emily was very worried and uncertain about going back there from the moment we got into the van. She clung to Julie and she was not interested in interacting with anyone. Last night we found a really great restaurant on the 8th floor of a department store. I know...sounds crazy, but it was delicious. Hunan pork, Thai fried rice, fried rice with chicken and pineapple. Complete with a "semi-cold" Coke (it's been almost impossible to find any cold drinks here...we are craving a big Sonic drink). Emily ate like a champ and even giggled and smiled at us. She allowed us to tickle her for a few moments and gave us a glimpse into who we believe she really is. Julie and I were amazed and can't wait to see that side of her more often. We finished off the meal with a little ice cream from McDonald's and headed back to the hotel. We were hanging out with our friends, Paul, Amy and their newly adopted daughter. It was so much fun to share this time with them.

Back at the hotel, Julie bathed Emily (which she really likes) and got her ready for bed. Everyone was ready for bed except Emily! She ended up sleeping great, but it took her awhile to get there. She loves to be held and rocked only by Julie while standing and this has become Julie's new workout! Sometimes at the slightest bending of the knees or touch of the chair and Emily is quick to let us know that she would rather be standing. Last night, after a long cry, she gave in while resting in my arms and it was a sweet feeling. I look forward to the day when that is the natural thing for her to do.

Today we toured a museum with our guide, spent some quality time in the room and had dinner at the same place as last night. Bring on the Hunan! Contrary to last night, we did not get to see Emily "come alive" during dinner, but she still ate well and we enjoyed the time together. She is still adjusting and normally only stops crying when she is eating, sleeping, bathing or if Julie is holding her. She did much better going to sleep tonight and for that we are very thankful. We keep reminding ourselves to take it one step at a time and sometimes those steps are "baby steps".

Please keep praying! There are times discouragement tries to creep in and we know it's not welcome here! We are also missing our oldest two children and cannot wait to have our family together! And of course, pray for sweet Emily and all that she has gone through and is still going through. We are daily asking our Father for wisdom in how to comfort her and how to show her love in a way she can receive it right now.

Look forward to updating you more tomorrow. Good Night from Wuhan City.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gotcha Day photos

Here are a few photos (sorry there are not more but we are having a hard time posting photos for some reason???)...

"Gotcha Day"

As Julie noted in the earlier blog, August 2, 2010 is a day that will live forever in our minds and hearts. We began the day with so many hopes, expectations, fears, and a multitude of other feelings. We also began the day at 4:00am so we were praying for strength and endurance. After a fairly easy flight into Emily's tiny village of Wuhan City (population of roughly 9 million), we made our way to the hotel and settled in. "Settled" really isn't the proper word because we were anything but that. However, there was a great sense of peace from the One who has saved us and called us and we latched on to His promises that are extremely sure and good and always present. Around 2:30 in the afternoon we loaded into the van with our new good friends, Paul and Amy, and headed to the adoption center to meet Emily. As we pulled into the parking lot, we actually saw some children getting out of a van with some orphanage workers. Within seconds, we spotted our little Emily!! Complete with at least 8 rubberbands and clips in her hair (it wasn't shaved as Julie had fearfully expected!!), she appeared to us as the beautiful girl we knew that she would be. The kids were quickly shuffled into the meeting room and we were led to a boardroom table to sign some official documents. While signing the documents we could see Emily playing in the room with her nanny and some of the other kids. It was a defining moment and one that will be etched in my mind for as long as I live. After some official formalities, we were introduced to Emily.

The euphoria of the moment and the culmination of years of waiting, praying and form-filling-out was almost surreal. Lest we paint too glamorous of a picture, know that Emily was very shy and hesitant. She is a very bright little girl and she knew that something was different about today. Through her eyes, it was a day of leaving certainty and familiarity only to find herself in the arms of strangers with different skin, a different smell and a different language. Tears were shed by mama, baby, nanny and the translator. Just kidding. The translator didn't cry.

From the very beginning she was drawn to Julie...and by drawn I only mean that she preferred (and still does) Julie over me. Because she was cared for so well by her foster mother, her ability to attach is strong and is definitely associated with women. From that moment until even now, Julie has rarely been without her. If Julie leaves the room or even walks out of sight, Emily starts to cry. She has definitely made eye contact with me and I am counting that as a victory. We played with a ball yesterday and she was smiling and laughing at me. She was smiling at me with her eyes and she captured my heart. It was, I believe, the beginning of many happy moments together, but I am still forced to be patient in these days and I draw great comfort in knowing that Emily's bond with Julie is growing stronger each day.

What we do know is that she likes sweet treats....and that is very vital to being a Barnard! And at almost 18 months of age, she is potty trained! That is also very vital to being a Barnard!

Well, this is all for now. I am tired and Emily is napping, so I better take advantage of the down time. There is a time and season for everything...a time to love...and our time to love is now. We cannot truly verbalize the love that fills our heart for the little girl who now sleeps on the bed in our room. We can't wait to introduce you to her. Hope you enjoy the pics. We love you all and are thankful for your love and support in return. We will check in later...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Gotcha Day" Eve

Our bags are packed and we are going to attempt to get some sleep tonight (it's Sunday night for us). Someone in our group today said tonight feels like Christmas Eve...I would agree but instead it feels like Christmas Eve X One hundred, million, trillon (as Caleb or Karis would say). "Butterflies in my stomach" doesn't even come close to describing the feeling right now. All throughout the day, we would take turns saying to each other, "Can you believe this is finally happening?" AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I am every bit as excited as I was when it was close to giving birth to our oldest two children...I even think I'm starting to have contractions! Let's just hope my "water doesn't break" on the plane tomorrow. :)
Ok, so the plan for tomorrow is to be on the bus by 5:20 and head to the airport. Our guide said the hotel would pack us a box breakfast, which should be interesting. I'm amazed at what has been on the breakfast buffet (ex. fried rice, pinto beans, lasagna, and other unidentified items). Our flight leaves at 7:30 AM and I think we arrive in Wuhan City at 9:30. A new guide will pick us up and take us to the hotel. This is when we are left hanging a bit because we don't know any details after we arrive. Will we have time to go to our room? Will someone bring Emily to us or will we go to her? One fun thing is we have a couple with our group that will also be going to Wuhan City to pick up there daughter. There is around 19 families in our Bethany group that will all scatter out around the country to different provinces to adopt their children and then we will all meet back in Guangzhou. It has been a lot of fun to get to know these families. There is an immediate bond between all of us which has been a tremendous blessing. We even had a sweet time of sharing and prayer's amazing to see how God has directed these families toward His heart beat of adoption!
Well, I better go try to get some rest (I think an Ambien is a must tonight).

A few quick notes about the photos...
(bottom to top) a fun ride in a rickshaw; Brandon with Chinese teenagers (He has been very popular with the teenagers here, especially the girls. We were told people would probably want to take photos of me because of my light hair...I think Brandon has been stopped more); a baby with the very common split pants and shaved hair (a lot of babies heads are shaved...Karis would die!); Forbidden City; Tianamen Square

We will do our best to post tomorrow night with the photos you are more interested in than these. :) Thank you for all the prayers!