Tuesday, July 27, 2010


She likes me. She really really likes me!  In less time than I had anticipated Lily and I have become buddies. She definitely prefers Susan, but I am making headway. When we first got back from China, Lily would get very upset if Susan was out of her sight. Now, she will actually comes looking for me...occasionally.

She calls me papa which is Chinese for daddy, and lately she is a girl after my own heart.  We sit in my big chair and watch TV.  I love it!  She likes to push the buttons on the remote control which can be a little aggravating with the channel changing every two seconds and volume fluctuating, and the power going on and off.  So, once I get the channel set, I give her the remote (upside down so the sensor is not pointed towards the television).  She pushes to her hearts content.  When she starts to get sleepy she hands me the remote and grabs my hand and puts it on her head.  I am supposed to pet her head until she falls asleep. Lily also likes to get a book and sit on the fireplace hearth.  She yells for me and then pats right beside where she is sitting so I will sit down and read. And today, when I got home from work, she threw her hands in the air, yelled papa at the top of her lungs and ran into my arms!  I am definitely starting to get that "wrapped around someone's little finger" feeling again. And I like it!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


They say you can't go back. Well, last night I spent several hours pouring over countless pages of  directions and sifting though hundreds of plastic parts putting together a play kitchen that Susan bought for Lily's birthday. I have such memories of late night Christmas Eve and pre-Birthday assembly sessions. Twenty-five years ago when I first started doing this, I would "sometimes" grumble and complain about the incoherent instructions and the impenetrable packaging.  I would lament my loss of sleep as I tried to figure out how to attach Part A to Part B at 2 a.m.  But as you long time parents know, in less than a blink, toy castles and kitchens and swing sets and basketball goals give way to clothes and make-up and fishing poles and electronic gadgets. No assembly required. OK, this is starting to get sappy. Anyway, I had a blast constructing Lily's Disney Princess Kitchen Extravaganza.  And even though I did not make it to bed until after 1:30 I still could not get to sleep.  I just kept thinking how blessed Susan and I are to be able to experience these special childhood moments again.

So, as it turns out, you can go back.  However, it does cost around $30,000, and you have to take a trip across the globe.  It requires being investigated by numerous government agencies, and produces countless other inconveniences and aggravations.  Worth every bit of it. Guaranteed!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


If I tell you that our lives have been sort of upended for the last week or so, that would be putting it mildly. Susan and I had explained to the kids about, and prepared ourselves for the "adjustment period" that we are now in the middle of.  But truthfully, and I and don't want to sound too self-focused here, I am the one that seems to have the most adjusting to do.  It started Lily's first night here.  We were told that it would probably be best if Lily slept in our bed for  "a little while" to help her "feel secure".  Now I have never been a kids in my bed kind of guy, but in the spirit of compassion that I am so famous for, I agreed.  Susan and Lily got settled in and as soon as I started to get in the bed, Lily, in her plainest English to date, waved at me and said in a very stern tone "Bye Bye Papa, Bye Bye!" I ignored her and got in bed. Susan says to me " well you could lay on the floor for just a few minutes until she falls asleep".  WHAT???????  I guess I have just not come far enough along in my spiritual journey to eat that slice of humble pie.  I refused. Lily eventually calmed down, and now is sleeping happily through the night in our bed. Susan has transitioned her to napping in the crib, so hopefully she will be out of my room and sleeping solo very soon.

I have also had to admit to a new and most glaring reality...  It is not all about me! That is the biggest adjustment I think, brought on by this situation. Adoption shifts your focus outward. This child, who I do not know, from another culture, who speaks very little english, and has only recently started to like me, needs love and protection and provision.  She needs to know Jesus, and we have been called to the task. It has interfered with my sleep, my bacon wrapped shrimp dinners, my free time, time with my other children and just about anything else you can name. You know what?  And I'm thinking this as I type. Maybe that's why God speaks so much about adoption.  It ties in so well with other biblical themes like servanthood and dying to self and looking out for the interest of others. Those concepts to me are much simpler on paper.  Living them is difficult sometimes. But adoption forces the issue and through the process I can already tell that our family is growing spiritually.  We are changing.

I am changing.  About time!


Oh yea, I mentioned last blog the problem Lily was having a problem with our dog. She literally screamed like she was being tortured every time Rocket was in the room. Now the tables have turned, a couple of times.  Lily, when Rocket came up and tried to lick her leg, screamed and bopped him on the head.  I guess he decided that Lily was alpha dog, and became terrified of her.  She loved the change and chased him around the house relentlessly trying to bop him. Now, in just a couple of days time they have become friends.  She hand feeds him and pets him kind of gently.  We are thankful that the two have adjusted to each other.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


It took over 31 hours door to door, but finally, the girls are home! All by herself, my wife navigated an international trip that included 5 airports. With Lily in tow, she had to retrieve her luggage several times due to customs and security, handle a stroller, a backpack, and go through immigration at JFK in New York in order to handle Lily's citizenship.

Additionally, since Lily is under two, we only purchased a lap fare for her because, you guessed it, the price was only $350 vs $1300 for full fare.  The travel agent tried to warn us that a 14 hour (one way)  airplane flight with a child in your lap would be horrendous. I haughtily assured her that we weren't first time parents, that this was not our first rodeo,  and that we were fully capable of deciding whether or not Susan could handle a two year old in her lap.

 Of course that was BEFORE Susan and I, who haven't traveled any further than Orlando in the past 15 years, were squashed into the pea  sized economy seats of the Air China 747.  It was after about an hour on Flight 982 that I realized the lap fare thing was a huge mistake. I knew Susan and I could tolerate it, but I began to worry about Susan and Lily on the return trip. I decided to put my foot down. After all, as a Christian husband, I know my role.  Provider, protector, and IN CHARGE! I told Susan that I was not taking no for an answer.  We were going to pay the extra fare and get a seat for Lily on the flight coming back!  Well, those of you who know us best, know how that went over.  Guess I'll have to settle for provider and protector. We were still "discussing" it when we landed in Beijing over 7 hours late. Because of the excessive delay we missed our connecting flight.  Air China was supposed to have a bus waiting at the Beijing airport to take all of us to a "hotel very wonderful" to await our rescheduled flight the following morning.  It was already 1 a.m.  Susan and I were exhausted.  After waiting about two hours for the promised bus, I noticed a Chinese gentleman banging his fist on the counter and screaming in Chinese at the Air China representative.  Since I had seen the same gentleman speaking English earlier, I asked him what he was saying to the clerk.  He told me that with this particular airline it did not matter what you said, but if you banged your fist on the counter, they would give you what you want.  The bus arrived in moments!

Fast forward. After I got home I still worried a lot about Susan traveling back such a distance with Lily in her lap.  I thought several times about upgrading the fare and facing the consequences.  I told a friend of mine about how concerned I was. He gave me something to think about and it helped a great deal.  He said that "behind her slight frame and gentle demeanor is a formidable force who has handled you for the past 29 years plus 4 kids.  She will be FINE! "  Last Thursday morning, the folks at Air China got to see that formidable side that I am so familiar with.  I received the following text message from Susan just minutes before she and Lily were scheduled to leave Beijing. "Everything is wonderful here. Banged my fist on the counter, got a free seat for Lily."  BAM!  That's my girl.

Lily slept 7 hours on the Beijing to JKF flight and Susan 4. For two hours Susan stood in the aisle so Lily could sleep across both seats.  And while Lily wasn't exactly an angel  while she was awake, the down time was extremely helpful to Susan.  They arrived in Montgomery at about 10:45 p.m,  I don't think I have ever seen Susan look better. Emily and Daniel were thrilled to see their mom and to meet Lily.  Daniel said it was the best moment of his entire life.  Pretty strong statement from a 13 year old boy. It was Emily who actually first brought up the idea of international adoption to us,  so it was an exceptional time for her as well.

We are settling in to our new normal and everything is going very well. There is no way we can adequately thank you all for the prayers, and phone calls and gifts and food... especially the food.

Prayer request. Lily is terrified by our 9lb little dog Rocket.  Makes things kind of difficult to have to keep the two separated.  Rocket actually seems a bit terrified himself.  Pray they will get comfortable with each other.

Thanks for reading.  More later.