Part of Me Blog

our adoption trip • part 3

Adoptionlissa-anglin4 Comments

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 here. 

Gotcha day was on a Monday, and we spent the next several days in Lucy's city- Guiyang City in Guizhou Province. Guiyang City is in southern China and is known for its spicy food- perfect for these Texans! We had several appointments and paperwork to be done, but there was a lot of down time, which was wonderful as we had a new family member to get to know.

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Our hotel (the Howard Johnson, which is apparently a 5-star chain in China- who knew?!) was very nice but if you've ever entertained kids in a hotel room you know you'll have to get out of there at least a few times a day! So, we ventured out- to a nearby park that is home to hundreds of slightly-too-friendly monkeys (read: possibly aggressive), a local Buddhist temple (beautiful!) and the BEST (and super cheap!) street food. We even found the local mall and Starbucks!

Random side note: if you watch my stories on Instagram you know I researched the best kind of instant coffee and packed myself a little coffee survival kit with it, powdered creamer and coconut palm sugar. It was one of the best, most comforting things and I'm so glad I had it! Here is the link to the coffee.

Our first excursion was to the monkey park. I need to take a minute and describe China's parks first, though. Here in Lubbock, trees are scarce. Our "parks" are literally lots of grass with maybe 10 trees and hopefully some playground equipment. You come, you wish you'd brought sunscreen, you play for a bit, and then you go home. China's parks, however, are all-out communities. They are acres and acres of land- beautifully landscaped and featuring places of worship, restaurants, boats, shops, community centers and animals. We could have easily spent all day in there. This park was just a short walk from our hotel and our guide wisely escorted us to the gondola which took us to the highest point in the city- where we could get a fabulous view.

On our way down, we got to walk through a Buddhist temple where people were burning incense and witness the hundreds of monkeys literally swinging from the trees above us. It was one of our kids' favorite things!

After the park, we got to eat hot pot which was easily one of our favorites. They brought out fresh fish and boiled it in a spicy broth right at our table. It was delicious!

On the left is Lucy's friend Liam, who was adopted by one of the families in our travel group. We know that they shared time in the orphanage together and they seem to have a very special bond. We are so thankful for this connection!

On the left is Lucy's friend Liam, who was adopted by one of the families in our travel group. We know that they shared time in the orphanage together and they seem to have a very special bond. We are so thankful for this connection!

The next day we ventured out to the local mall which was next to a large man-made lake. There was a playground for the kids, musicians playing, and Starbucks! As we walked around the lake we couldn't help but be in awe of this huge mansion that overlooked it all- and were told that it was the home of the mall developer. It was the largest home I have ever seen- check out the last photo in this series.

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One of the most special things we had the chance to do in Guiyang City is to find the hospital where Lucy was "found". Lucy was born prematurely and had multiple issues because of that, so her records state that she was "found" at this particular hospital. We do not know anything about her parents, nor do we know if she was actually born at the hospital or was taken there after birth. And we may never- though there are professionals who will search for birth parents if and when Lucy wants to try to find them.

In China, you must pay for your medical procedures at the time of service, and if you are unable to pay, you are unable to be treated. So, it is possible that Lucy's biological parents knew they had a sick baby and could not pay for her treatment. We are thankful she was left in a safe place where she could receive the treatment she needed. I'm sure the people standing outside of the hospital were wondering what in the world we were doing!

The view outside our hotel room

The view outside our hotel room

Getting used to each other. Thankful we had ipads and plenty of time for sleepy mornings!

The BEST street food. Dumplings, fried bread, sweet bread, noodles- this card lover was in HEAVEN! Notice the people off to the side laughing at us trying to order what we wanted. Anytime our crew stopped in one place for a few minutes, it seemed that a crowd of onlookers gathered. I'm not sure we ever got used to it...

The BEST street food. Dumplings, fried bread, sweet bread, noodles- this card lover was in HEAVEN! Notice the people off to the side laughing at us trying to order what we wanted. Anytime our crew stopped in one place for a few minutes, it seemed that a crowd of onlookers gathered. I'm not sure we ever got used to it...

That's it for now! Part 4 will be coming up as quick as I can type!

our adoption trip • part 2 (gotcha day)

Adoptionlissa-anglinComment

Check out Part 1 here in case you missed it. :)

We arrived in Lucy's city the night before we would meet her, which was great and gave us a chance to get settled in at our new hotel. The next day, we were told to be ready by 1:30 p.m. Every minute before 1:30 was just plain full of anxiety for me. I wasn’t myself- could hardly eat and my parenting was definitely lacking. I’m so thankful my parents were here and that Shawn is generally chill in every situation. Poor Knox had not been feeling well the day before and really took a turn for the worse that morning- turning white as a sheet as we waited to head to the Civil Affairs office. I am SO thankful we had my parents in that situation- they dutifully took care of our sweet boy the whole time so that we could focus. 


A quick note on the term "Gotcha Day": I realize that some families choose not to use this term because it could seem offensive or insensitive- as if a person is something that can be owned or purchased. I totally get that, and am so NOT ok with those insinuations. However, for simplicity's sake our family has chosen to use the term "gotcha day" just to reference this very special day in which Lucy officially became part of our family and was adopted. Our purpose in using this term is only to pinpoint the much-anticipated day where we got to hold Lucy for the first time. We don't intend to hurt or offend and respect those who choose not to use this term.


About 1:00 pm, they let us know that we actually didn’t need to go until 2. Ugh. So, finally, 2:00 rolled around and we all piled into the van. Knox was losing color in his face and only wanted to sleep. Poor guy- we didn’t have any choice but to drag him along. There was such a tension among all of the families in our group- though we all tried to laugh and say positive things, but the unknown was at the forefront of our thoughts. We weren't sure who would be there- foster parents, orphanage directors, random civil affairs workers- we had been told it varies. And what would happen? Crying? Likely. It was like preparing for intentional heartbreak, knowing it was the right thing. In those moments, we had to lean on Jesus, and trust that He had brought us to that place, and He knew best. 

Just before we went up the elevator to meet Lucy. Check out my I'm-about-to-puke-I'm-so-nervous smile. I don't know why I even tried! Ha!

Just before we went up the elevator to meet Lucy. Check out my I'm-about-to-puke-I'm-so-nervous smile. I don't know why I even tried! Ha!

Once we arrived, we had to take an elevator up to the correct floor of the huge office building. We'd had grand plans of how we would capture this moment of meeting, and even had my dad prepped with the camera- but got pushed onto separate elevators and so our videos are pretty haphazard- which is really more how it all felt, anyway. Once we stepped off the elevator, we were immediately directed into the Civil Affairs office, which I recognized from some photos from other families, and as we walked in, I saw the silhouette of a little girl with pigtails being held by a woman who looked a lot like Lucy’s foster mother.

Lucy had been in foster care most of her life- and we had been told that her foster parents may or may not be there on gotcha day. I was excited at the chance to meet and talk with such a special lady. Sure enough, the woman recognized us- and we recognized Lucy. It all happened extremely fast. All three families along with their adoptive children and foster parents were lead into a separate room. For us, there were no tears shed in those minutes— not Lucy, Shawn, nor me. Lucy’s foster mother was smiling and talking up a storm to me- I wish I knew what she was telling me about! She pointed to me and said, “mama”. She pointed to Shawn and said, “baba”. Eventually I got to hold Lucy- just for a bit- and then she wanted her foster mother back. We did this routine a few times until finally Lucy let me hold her for a while. 

Lucy's foster mother- God bless this sweet woman!

Lucy's foster mother- God bless this sweet woman!

It was clear to me that Lucy’s foster mother was not new to this gig at all- and I really believe she contributed so much to the good experience we’ve had in these first few weeks with Lucy. She smiled and talked so positively about our daughter- answered our questions as best she could (we had some time with her and the translator to ask questions). When we asked if there was anything she wanted to tell us, she told us that Lucy is a very good girl- not spoiled, and happy with company. I saw her wipe away a few tears as she bounced Lucy and made her smile. She handed me some yogurt, a bottle, some formula and a few diapers, and before Lucy could realize it, she was gone. I didn’t get to say all of the profound things I’d planned on- but I didn’t need to. I think she knew what all my “thank you”s meant. 

Knox and Liv were so sweet and had a bag of toys ready to go!

Knox and Liv were so sweet and had a bag of toys ready to go!

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Lucy fell asleep soon after this and so I was able to put her in the Tula carrier and watch some of the paperwork that Shawn was now involved in completing. There was a lot of signing and thumbprinting. The other sweet babies that were being adopted that day cried in the background and their mommas fought very hard to comfort them. I was so shocked that we hadn’t yet had any crying on our side that I wasn’t sure what to do- so I ended up praying for the other families during that time and I’m so glad I was able to. It honestly calmed me down just to be reminded where our help and strength comes from!

Finally and all of a sudden (yes, that’s how it felt- both long and fast at the same time)- we were told to come sit together in front of a red background for a photo. Knox was still feeling awful but was able to join us all for a quick photo. We went over some more details with our agency’s representative and then, it was time to go!

Always more paperwork to be done!

Always more paperwork to be done!

It was completely surreal to walk out of that building with a beautiful little girl who I’d stared at in photos for months, but didn’t actually know. She woke up and was melancholy. Her eyes stared blankly at anything but me. She didn’t cry. She just absorbed. Such a brave little soul.

Our photo for her official adoption documents. Lucy was basically still asleep during this photo, haha!

Our photo for her official adoption documents. Lucy was basically still asleep during this photo, haha!

Shawn and I walked down the street with our guide and the other parents and kids just after our meeting to take some passport photos. She just stared at us so solemnly. I will never forget that surreal feeling- standing there in the urban jungle of Lucy's city- soaking in the sounds and the realization that we have THREE kids!

Shawn and I walked down the street with our guide and the other parents and kids just after our meeting to take some passport photos. She just stared at us so solemnly. I will never forget that surreal feeling- standing there in the urban jungle of Lucy's city- soaking in the sounds and the realization that we have THREE kids!

Sweet Knox- he was such a trooper this whole day, even though he felt awful. Liv, of course, could NOT get enough of her new sister. 

Sweet Knox- he was such a trooper this whole day, even though he felt awful. Liv, of course, could NOT get enough of her new sister. 

Once we were back to the hotel (we took a trip to Walmart right after we received Lucy to get a few necessities for her), Lucy perked up and played for a while with Liv. Their giggles were (and still are) such a beautiful thing to hear. Going to bed that night was quite a long and hard process, but Lucy eventually snuggled up to Shawn and it has been better and better every night since. 

Playing at the hotel.

Playing at the hotel.

Looking back on it now, I will remember Gotcha Day as a long, hard, beautiful day- and a reminder that God is so, so good to us. I was so thankful that we could carry His peace with us- knowing that even if we couldn't comfort Lucy, He could. He was our reassurance to take the next step and trust Him in every unknown. Even Knox who felt terrible was sustained and healed in the days to come. He SO had our backs. No detail was new or a surprise to Him, and that gave me immense peace on one of the most stressful days of my life- not to mention my new daughter's. Again- He is so, so good. 

More of our journey to come!

our adoption trip • part 1

Adoptionlissa-anglin1 Comment

We've been home just a few days from our trip to China to receive Lucy and bring her home. I had hoped to blog while in China, but it was too difficult to get reliable internet service- plus I was just plain exhausted at the end of every day. I remember realizing at about day 10 that I hadn't actually had any introspective thoughts that I could recall for the majority of the trip- which is so unlike my normal rhythm. I was just in pure survival mode most of the time. 

So, I journaled my thoughts as much as I could while we were there and promised to blog later- in hopes that I might have a more well-rounded perspective looking back. 

Our adoption trip took place in 3 cities- Beijing, Guiyang City (Lucy's birthplace), and Guangzhou. This is our first adoption, but believe that most adoption trips follow a similar format. 

A couple of interesting facts about the trip:

- Only 1 trip is required, and from the time we met Lucy, she stayed with us.

- We didn't know our travel dates until about 2 weeks before we left (which was a little stressful seeing as we are approaching our busiest work season with weddings). Our dates hinged upon our appointment date with the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, which would issue Lucy's visa to come to the U.S. Once we got our appointment, we were able to set travel dates and book our flights. 

- Speaking of flights, it's complicated. We had 6 total in our party going, 7 coming back, with no round trips and restrictions on which countries we could have layovers in coming home due to immigration laws. We consider ourselves pretty travel savvy and have booked many a flight in our time, but when we literally had hours to book flights to China for 7 people, we reached out to adoptionairfare.com and they were AMAZING. They were able to get us better flight schedules and humanitarian rates lower than we'd seen anywhere online- and they were extremely fast. After we contacted them, we had flights booked in about 5 hours. I would highly recommend them!

LUBBOCK -> BEIJING

The upper left photo was our last meal in Lubbock as a family of four. 

The upper left photo was our last meal in Lubbock as a family of four. 

We had an early flight out of Lubbock on a Thursday morning. I'd literally been packing for two weeks and was a ball of nerves- worried that somehow we'd miss our flight or forget something essential. Our courteous friend Brandon picked up Shawn, Knox, Liv and I in a borrowed 15 passenger van (nothing else would fit all our luggage!) at 5:30 a.m. and then we headed over to pick up my parents.

-When we began our adoption journey 5 years ago, we had an almost 3 year old son (Knox) and wanted to treat this trip as if we would a visit to the hospital when a new sibling is born. We'd always envisioned him being there when we went to get his sister. When Liv was born two years into the process, that changed a bit and we felt like she would be too young to go when we went. Time passed, though, and God spoke to both Shawn and I separately about it. A month or so before we received our referral phone call, we decided to take Liv as well, now that she was old enough to possibly remember, and to help ease a new one into our family. So, once we knew we were actually going to China, we decided we would need some HELP. And thankfully- oh, SO thankfully- my parents were willing and eager to come with us.-

The flight over went really well- we had plenty of fun toys packed for the kids in their backpacks and plenty of movies and games on the 13 hour flight to Beijing. China is 13 hours ahead of Texas, so it is literally like doing a 180 when you travel to China. To help with the jetlag, we gave the kids melatonin for the first few days which helped get them to sleep at the right time. 

One of the best parts about the trip is that we had to plan little to nothing- our agency did it all for us. This is really not my usual approach to any trip or vacation, but there are so many appointments and unfamiliar territories that it was extremely helpful. We were given an itinerary the week before we left. The first two days in Beijing were meant to get over jetlag before meeting Lucy and experience some Chinese culture. I couldn't wait to watch my family experience China!

Dinner our first night in Beijing! You could see right into the kitchen at the restaurant we went to and watch them make your dumplings. Delicious!

Dinner our first night in Beijing! You could see right into the kitchen at the restaurant we went to and watch them make your dumplings. Delicious!

Our agency plans travel in groups, which I thought was a little unusual until we got there. In the end, I was so thankful for these two other families- a husband and wife with their 8 year old daughter from Maine, and another couple from Nebraska with 3 other children who stayed home. They were all so extremely nice and low-key- journeying with us the entire trip. The very best part about group travel is having someone to talk to face-to-face who is going through the same experience with you. You already know what each other has been through just to get to this point, so I already had a lot of respect for them from the beginning- not to mention after 2 emotional, draining weeks.

After eating breakfast at the hotel (which was quite decent and had great espresso!), we boarded our bus for Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (where the emperor used to live). I had seen Tiananmen before, but never been inside to the Forbidden City. It was a good bit of culture shock- the sheer amount of people and crowds were astounding. We had many stares (it’s not rude to stare in China)- especially Liv with her blonde hair- and people asking to take photos with her. She handled this okay- though I’m not sure anyone got a smile out of her, haha! 

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If you know my dad, you won't be surprised that he made some friends himself :).

If you know my dad, you won't be surprised that he made some friends himself :).

It was really neat to see how huge the Forbidden City is and amazing to imagine it when the emperor lived and ruled from there. Everything is incredibly ornate and expansive. We probably walked 3 miles that morning before heading to lunch. After lunch we visited the Summer Palace, which was a much less formal environment- still huge and ornate- but more gardens and trees- and it sits on a lake which makes for a beautiful view. 

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We got to eat a Peking Duck dinner that night- it was delicious- but by 8 pm, our kids were asleep at the table and we were all exhausted. We were all wide awake at about 3 am that next morning, but a little melatonin got us back to sleep- at least until it was acceptable to eat breakfast. :)

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The second day, we needed to pack up all of our things again (not the easiest feat with 6 people!) and be ready to go by 8:30 am. So, so thankful for that espresso in the lobby restaurant! We headed to the Great Wall. It was a gorgeous day- no clouds and 70 degrees. I have been to the Great Wall a couple of times before but never this section. It was SO incredibly steep! I had Liv strapped to my back in the carrier (here's a similar one) and I am so glad we had that- the thought of her running free on those uneven, crowded steps makes my anxiety level rise even now. At some portions of the wall, the steps were a foot tall and so steep all you could see was the next steps in front of you. I was so impressed with my parents who climbed up further than we did! By the time we descended, our legs were complete jello but we could at least say we’d done it. 

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Knox was so excited to wear his school tshirt on the Great Wall and send them a photo. 

Knox was so excited to wear his school tshirt on the Great Wall and send them a photo. 

That afternoon we walked the National Stadium area where the 2008 Olympics were held. The structures there were amazing and they also had some cool sculptures. Then, it was time to get to the airport to board our flight to Lucy's city.

I was so thankful we had our AWAA guide with us to help us with our domestic flight. We were a large group and had been given very vague details on baggage requirements from the airline- so there was some chaos and moving things around from bag to bag. Before leaving, our guide, Summer, gave us some special shirts she had designed for our kids with their Chinese names on it. I think we all cried before we turned to enter security. 

The sakura blooms were all over and so beautiful!

The sakura blooms were all over and so beautiful!

Security for this flight was no joke. Maybe it’s because we were totally exhausted from all the activity the two days before or just emotional at the weight of what was about to come- but I felt a little violated after getting out of that line, haha! I had been patted down, asked about every piece of carry-on luggage I had, and they ran my backpack through the scanner 4 times! Ugh. We saw McDonald’s on the way to our gate and shoved french fries in our faces to cope as Chinese men and women just stared. Who even knows what they were thinking about all those Americans with their McDonald’s! I just didn’t care at that point. 

Our seats were at the very back of the plane, and it was a late flight with a rough landing and mystery food. The kids slept the whole time, which was great. Once we arrived, though, things got better. 

Liv was enamored with the city lights at night.

Liv was enamored with the city lights at night.

Stay tuned for part 2!

on our way to lucy fei

Adoptionlissa-anglin1 Comment

By this time next week, she'll be in my arms.

The weight of that new responsibility, the peace because we're finally done waiting, and the thrill of a new, beautiful soul joining our little family hits me so hard. 

Guys- we're leaving in 3 days. I should be asleep, but I'm not. The caffeine is working and I'm knocking out the rest of the work to be done before we leave. Though it's not evident lately on my blog, I'm still a professional photographer who has actual photoshoots and clients. :) I've had the privilege of photographing some crazy beautiful people and moments lately but all my photo-blogging time has been taken up by paperwork, or noses that need wiping.

Perhaps I am already getting on China time? It's just a stark, painful, orange-juice-mixed-with-toothpaste 13 hour difference. Yikes.

Our agency sent these cards for us to keep on hand should we want to explain ourselves to a curious onlooker and not have a translator. So simply stated but perfect.

Our agency sent these cards for us to keep on hand should we want to explain ourselves to a curious onlooker and not have a translator. So simply stated but perfect.

But we will be just fine. 

It's high time I answer a few questions about our travel, seeing as it's only 3 sleeps away. The travel portion of an international adoption trip is fast and furious- filled with delicate details that needn't be missed. 

Last Monday, we were granted Travel Approval by the Chinese government, which means we are now allowed to enter China for the purpose of adopting a child and bringing her home with us. We found out about this around 10 am...and the agency needed our flight itinerary by 4 pm. Hah!

We fancied ourselves worthy of booking our own flights (we've done trips to China and other countries in the past)- but once we realized all it would take (6 people going to one city, 7 leaving from another, layover restrictions, visa processing time, time difference)- we gladly reached out to Adoption Airfare. They had flights ready to book for us in about 1 hour- cheaper than any we'd seen in all our googling, and with only 1 short layover. DONE! Highly recommend them.

We are bringing Knox and Liv, as well as my parents to help out. It will be quite a crew, but we felt so strongly about bringing our children with us, and we are really glad to have the support of my parents, so that we can focus on Lucy as much as we can. To us, it's just like the birth of a new sibling- and there is no better education than travel.

Knox and Liv have backpacks full of little activities for the plane ride, and mommy has melatonin in her carry-on. :) Seriously though, that is my plan- once it's "bed time" in China, we'll be going to sleep on the plane. And I really believe that the kids will be just fine. Call me crazy. Or naive. Maybe both. 

Our trip will be almost two weeks exactly, and we will receive Lucy permanently three days after we land. Our agency schedules trips with a few days to get over jetlag, which I am thankful for. During that time we will get to do a little sightseeing. I have been to all of the places we will be going- so I am excitedly anticipating seeing all of my people experience them for the first time!

Once we receive Lucy, the rest of our trip will be filled with various appointments- one to finalize the adoption, one medical assessment, one for her visa (and maybe a few more?! I'll check the itinerary again...). On our days off we will get to bond and explore. I can't wait! 

Lucy will receive her American visa right before we leave China, and will officially be a citizen once our wheels touch American soil. 

Packing has been quite an adventure so far. I feel I'm doing pretty well, but I haven't packed my things yet- so that may be my undoing. :) The great news is, I really only have to pack enough clothing for half the trip- the laundry services there are excellent and inexpensive, from what I hear. My greatest packing find has been a Lululemon Vinyasa scarf I found on eBay- sure to be my forever travel companion from this point on. I also splurged on this $15 wonder which looks sort of like a neck brace, because I guess...that's what it is. Don't worry, kids- Shawn will be spotted with this lovely contraption...just to embarrass you further. 'Cause mommies and daddies NEED their SLEEP.

For at least the past week, my mind has been bouncing between complete circumstantial presence (see paragraph above) and the deep realization of all that's actually happening. It's like I'm sitting on a dock, applying my sunscreen and adjusting my hat, while the deep blue water pulses up and down- reminding me why that dock is even there in the first place. 

It's that steady stream of purpose, of all the undeniable ways God's taken care of us in this process- that make me so thankful to be here. And to soon be all the way across the world! 

I'm going to do my very best to share our trip here- and likely more so on Instagram- so go follow me there if you haven't already!

And I'm sure I've forgotten some details- feel free to ask any questions about the travel process in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!

if I'm honest...I'm totally afraid.

Adoptionlissa-anglin2 Comments

A couple of months ago, I asked my Facebook friends what they wanted to know about our adoption. Their questions were genuine and curious and I was happy to answer most all of them, because I truly believe that sharing our story will not only help educate people on international adoption but communicate the value and worth of these children who, by none of their own doing, have found themselves without a family.

Most were easy answers about processes and travel procedures...but there was one question I did not want to face.

"What are you most afraid of?"

At the time, we had just received our referral (had been matched with a child). I was so confident (and just plain excited that we finally had a darling face to look at)- I could have responded, "I'm not afraid of anything. I know God will work it out."

But in the 8ish weeks since- and in the interest of full disclosure- I've slowly sunken into a deep sea of fear, anxiety, and worry. And if I'm being honest, I'm scared shitless.

I don't say that term to be funny- I'm saying it because it is the complete and literal truth. I have actually had intestinal issues due to my stress level in the past several weeks, which I'm sure you wanted to know. I've also developed this reoccurring eye twitch, which is the most annoying physical ailment I've ever had. It's like a tiny stress meter that sits just under my right eye, pulsating at the presence of every anxious thought. Which, if you're me right now, is about every 3 to 4 minutes.

I've had moments where I just burst into tears. Moments where I become filled with anger and even vengeful (ugh, so embarrassing). I've melted into depressive states and ignored my husband and children for the perceived safety and darkness of my bed. Some of this is stuff that's normal-ish for me to experience on a monthly basis (if you know what I mean)- but what I want you to hear is that lately, it's been much worse. 

I don't say these things to gain sympathy- if I'm being real, my pride doesn't want you to feel sorry for me.  I'm sharing this, though, because it's therapeutic for me to write- and if by chance there is anyone reading this who wants to know what the "not fun" parts of this adoption journey look like, now you know.

So I'm finally tackling the question. What am I most afraid of? Here we go...

 

I'm afraid I'll have an emotional breakdown (or two or ten) during our trip to China.

I'm afraid that our new daughter will hate or resent me for taking her away from everything she knows.

I'm afraid that my child's special need will be more than I can handle.

I'm afraid that I won't be able to do three kids.

I'm afraid that my bio kids will have a difficult time adjusting or feel ignored.

I'm afraid that we will find out our child has additional special needs once she is home.

I'm afraid that I won't know how to respond to people's comments.

I'm afraid that I won't get any sleep. 

I'm afraid that it will put stress on our marriage we won't be able to bear.

I'm afraid my child will not bond with me.

I'm afraid that we won't have enough in our bank account to travel.

I'm afraid that I will be completely debilitated and overwhelmed with anxiety.

I'm afraid that I'll lose friendships, business, or sanity because any amount of free time I have is about to be obliterated.

I'm afraid that people will see our long, messy story and choose not to adopt.

 

Some of these things will actually happen, and we will figure it out when they do. Some of these will not. Much of this is completely out of my control, which only makes my anxiety amp up that much more.

Most of the attacks I've experienced lately (which I do believe are spiritual warfare) have been specifically targeted at my abilities as a mother and my mental and emotional health. It's been tough to weed through the tall grasses of my mind to understand what is worth paying attention to, and what is just an attempt by the enemy on an already vulnerable space. Somehow, even though I've mothered two biological children, there is always that exception...I've never done this adoption thing before. 

Targeting the lies and replacing them with truth has been a very slow and ominous process- one that sometimes I simply don't have the energy to pursue. But it's the only way out, and it's worth my effort. 

We aren't finished with this journey yet, but here's what I do know:

God knows. Especially when I don't.

He has prepared a way. Every minute, tear, and dollar has been worth it.

He sees our girl. He's planned our future.

My daughter- though I have not met her yet- has helped me understand the gospel of Christ better.

Scripture says that He has overcome! Who can stop the Lord Almighty?

Not money. Not time. Not anxiety. Not physical, emotional, or mental sickness. 

From the weakest and strangest place, I can tell you that this is a story of victory. Amidst all of the unknowns, I have a peace in my gut that says, "this is right". 

So yeah, I'm totally scared. But I'm also incredibly excited. I can't wait to meet her. To love on her. To tell her she belongs. 

There's nothing about me that's "handling" it right now and I'm expecting breakdowns (on my part for sure, plus at least a few from my counterparts). Dear reader, I need you to see that there is nothing extra brave or special about what we are doing- except the God that has orchestrated it all. 

However, I can tell you that we'll be stepping onto a plane in a few short weeks, and doing the thing we've wanted to do for 5 years now. I don't know what it's going to look like necessarily, and that's killing me. I'm hoping I'll find some relief when we are actually GOING. But until then, it will be a day-to-day battle- replacing lies with the truth of scripture. Saying out loud the things that threaten to take away my peace and repenting from my unbelief. Hoping in Christ and practicing thankfulness.

 

Some scriptures I am holding on to:

John 9:3 (one of my favorite stories in the Bible)- "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 

John 16:33- I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Deut. 31:8- The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Psalm 68:6- God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. 

Psalm 119:133- Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

Psalm 118:14- The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.

DIY Scribble Floral Mural

HOME + LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglinComment

This is an idea I've had brewing in my head for well over a year now. It all started when my sister put in this gorgeous wallpaper in her daughter's nursery. THEN I started crushing on this Hygge & West wallpaper and just KNEW I had to put it in the girls' room (I'm actually really excited about the wallpaper resurgence- so many modern and colorful designs!).  

However, after doing all the calculations, I decided that it simply wasn’t in the budget. And, after seeing the oversized florals in Hayden's nursery I thought that might be a little more do-able. I also figured I could paint over it if I hated it! 

So, I decided to give the floral thing a shot. This method I used is really so forgiving- I will describe it in detail as best I can! And it was actually a quick project – the planning took a lot longer than the actual painting.

The first thing I did was sketch the composition on my iPad so I knew so I could get my ideas out "on paper", and play with color palettes. I pulled the composition off of a few bouquet photos I liked and traced certain parts of it to get me started. After that it was a matter of filling in the gaps, and repeating some of those same florals in different spots. I knew wanted to keep in the color scheme I have been prepping for their room anyway- pink, orange, mustard yellow, and black and white. I wanted the flowers to have more of an illustrative feel as opposed to a realistic look, which I knew would be a lot easier for me to achieve. I like to call these my "scribble flowers". 

Thanks to my iPad and Procreate, it's actually really easy to share that process with you here:

The room also has a chair rail on all the walls (when we moved in there was a really uh, interesting frog border sandwiched in-between the molding)-  and I wanted to make sure that everything would look right with the chair rail– so I knew I needed to do something to add interest there to keep the flow throughout the room. So, I also drew up a mock up of how it would look in the room. 

My room mock up with the floral design and border.

My room mock up with the floral design and border.

This woman actually swore she would never paint a room pink...famous last words!

This woman actually swore she would never paint a room pink...famous last words!


Once I had come up with a design I was happy with, it was time to paint!

My mom came over and helped me paint the three different colors on the walls – and this is definitely the hardest part! We ended up having to paint the ceiling after we realized it wasn’t actually white, but a very light blue which wouldn’t complement the new colors. I'm so thankful I had my mom to help me pick out the grey color (really more of a greige than grey) on the bottom- previously it was a really blue grey which made it feel cold and sterile to me. Since I knew we'd be adding warmer colors, it was really important to pick a grey with a warm undertone- otherwise it would have made the original grey look very blue.

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Pink background color: Valspar Arctic Ice 

White: Valspar Downy

Grey on bottom and in mural: Valspar Requisite Grey

We used Satin sheen with every paint- I have found it is very scrubbable without being too shiny.

If you watch my Insta stories (follow me @lissaanglin), you’ll remember that I recommended using an angled brush as opposed to a square one. I hate messing with painter's tape and have found that an angled brush gives me as good or better results. The key with the angled brushes to not overloaded with too much paint and go slow.

Once my base coats were ready, it was time to sketch out the composition. I’d like to do my outlines with chalk, since it wipes off easily. At first I tried drawing with white chalk, but it just wasn’t enough of a contrast on the pink, so I ended up using a light purple chalk. It did end up mixing with the paint somewhat, but it just wasn’t that big of a deal for me – so be warned if you choose to use a darker color of chalk – you might see it a bit!

Next I mixed all of my additional colors for the mural. To keep everything really consistent, I chose to use the same white paint that was on our trim and chair rail, so that all of the paint would have the same base color. Not all white paints are created equal – some have a blue base, some have a green base, some red, some yellow – you get the idea. I mixed the paint in my fancy Solo cups- adding about half a cup of white paint and then tinting the white with these paints from Michaels by adding just a bit at of color at a time and stirring well.

I am a messy painter!

I am a messy painter!

Keep in mind that your paint will dry darker than it looks when wet. It might be a good idea to paint yourself a test on a piece of paper and let it dry so that you can see the actual colors. I would also suggest using a more limited color palette – three or four colors max – it will keep it much more consistent and professional looking.

Once I had the composition sketched out and paints ready, it was time for the paint bottom layer which I'm calling the "blobs". This is a really fun part of the process. Using a square brush like these, I began to apply my blobs of paint using my outlines guides- but I wasn't too precious about it. ;)

 I wanted to make the color bleed outside of the outline in the end, so I purposely made the color blobs a bit larger than they needed to be. For simplicity sake, I decided to make all of the same types of flowers the same color – so peonies were pink, chrysanthemums were orange, etc. I attempted to do a time-lapse video of myself painting, but didn't quite make it to the outlining stage before my iPad died. However, hopefully this video will give a good idea of how I painted my blobs:



Once the blobs were finished, I let the paint dry fully and then it was time for the outline! I recommend using a round brush (these are great) for the outlines. Keep in mind you will likely need a smaller brush than you think, because when you put pressure on the brush, it’s going to get bigger. So, it’s better to lean on the smaller side so that your outlines don’t become too big.

Can't wait till there are two sweet girls playing in this room!

Can't wait till there are two sweet girls playing in this room!

Looking at my original sketch, I began to paint the outlines over my colored paint blobs. I didn’t worry too much about staying inside or outside of the lines – and purposely went outside the lines frequently. I used only 1 round brush for all of the outline, so that it was consistent throughout.

Once I was finished, I added some random colored dots/blobs of all the colors I used around the entire piece.

That’s it! I needed up having quite a bit of extra paint that I had mixed, and I didn’t want to throw it out because I’m a paint hoarder, so I went to the dollar store and bought some cheap plastic containers that worked perfectly for storage. Now if anything ever happens to the flowers (likely in our household), I have handy touch up paint.

After I was done I was hesitant to hang the curtains on top of the flowers, but that had been my intention from the beginning, and I love the way the flowers peek out from behind. Also, this room has a ways to go but let's be real- the toys are usually on the floor anyway. :)

After I was done I was hesitant to hang the curtains on top of the flowers, but that had been my intention from the beginning, and I love the way the flowers peek out from behind. Also, this room has a ways to go but let's be real- the toys are usually on the floor anyway. :)

There you have it! If you made it through this far, thanks for reading and I hope you attempt some scribble florals yourself!

journey west

Adoptionlissa-anglin1 Comment

Naming a kid is a big deal in our home. With both Knox and Liv, we were able to decide relatively quickly in the pregnancy what their names would be. In both cases, we searched for good family names and I did a LOT of researching the meanings of different names. I truly believe that names have influence on who a person becomes, and so choosing a name for your child is an important honor. 

Truett means "faithful" and Knox means "hill". Knox is my father's middle name, and because my Dad had all daughters and two sisters, we were the last Rustens (my maiden name) of our generation, so it was important for us to carry on that legacy in some way. I do also believe that in the way that people use hills as reference points in a landscape, that our son will be a leader and a reference point for others. 

China has the most beautiful parks in the middle of bustling cities. I shot this image at a neighborhood park early one morning on one of my past trips- I can't wait for my family to see things like this!

China has the most beautiful parks in the middle of bustling cities. I shot this image at a neighborhood park early one morning on one of my past trips- I can't wait for my family to see things like this!

Liv means "life" which was significant to us because she came after a rough season in which I had several miscarriages. We were (and are) so thankful for her LIFE. Caroline, her middle name, means "joyful song", which fits her personality perfectly. My middle name is also Carrol (as is my mother and her mother's), and so this was how we chose to keep that going.

So, when it came to naming our third, I was just as particular about the name meanings, but even more so- because I wanted to make sure whatever name(s) we chose had both a great meaning in English AND Mandarin, and be easily pronounced by native English speakers and native Mandarin speakers. The reason this is so important to me is because if she ever wants to spend time in China, or research her heritage (we plan to do this with her), or learn to speak Mandarin- basically if she ever wants to dive in deeper to her Chinese heritage- I want her to feel that she belongs in both places...with a name that easily transitions.

Side note: I know that a lot of transracially adopted children (children born of one race and adopted by another) grow up with a sense of duality- feeling that they belong to two different cultures at the same time. This has both its positive and negative effects, and are constantly learning all we can about how to facilitate those feelings. We are so excited to celebrate her Chinese heritage, though she will be a fully American citizen. There are lots of sensitive bridges to cross here, and we will go one at a time, as best we can- but with the understanding that no matter her birthplace, she can and will fully belong in our family, even with respect (and honor!) to the mother that birthed her, and the country where she began.

We were hesitant to even discuss names for most of our adoption journey because things could change. Looking back, I am so thankful that we did not pick a name at the very beginning. When we decided to withdraw from the Ethiopia program and apply for China, I actually had to mourn the loss of that beautiful brown-skinned girl I had been imagining. It took me several months to adjust to the new plan fully, and I know it would have been even more difficult had we had a name attached to that person we'd been imagining. 

It wasn't until a couple of months ago that Shawn and I started talking about it casually and then we just sort of knew. 

Lucy. Her name would be Lucy. 

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Lucy is actually a very popular name amongst Chinese adoptees, but we chose it for a few reasons:

1) It is the nickname my father would call me growing up. We like our "L" names around here, apparently! My two sisters and I all have names that start with L and even the our female dog is named Lola. So, Lissa, Liv and Lucy will definitely keep our tongues tied.

2) Lucy in English means "bringer of light". As a photographer, I COULD NOT LOVE THIS MORE. Photographers are basically obsessed with light and all it represents- spiritually, I pray that this will means she is a woman of truth, hope and encouragement to those around her. 

3) Lucy in Mandarin can be translated as Lù Xi (the x makes a "sh" sound). The "Lù" is translated as "road" or "journey", and Xi means "west". So, considering she will be making that very important journey from east to west soon, her new name will be a marker for her story. After doing the research on this, I had chills! 

Lucy also has a Chinese name that she was given, and we wanted to keep some part of it for her middle name. Fourtunately, her given middle name is Fei (sounds like "Faye"). It can be translated as "fly" or "winged", which I love, but we were told that her specific "fei" meaning was "flowers and plants flourish", which is equally as wonderful. 

So, Lucy Fei- our light bringer who will journey west and flourish. We can't wait to see how her names play out in her life. She has already shined light in our lives in so many ways. My prayer for her right now is that she would flourish.  

I've waited to share this video, because I say "Lucy" in it- but here is the moment we showed Knox and Liv her photo:

They were a lot more chill than I expected them to be- but also, they've been expecting to hop on a plane any day now for the past year- so it was just not that surprising to them, I guess! Also, did you catch Liv's response to me asking about Lucy's birthday? Haha- I love that girl!

sending our love

Adoptionlissa-anglinComment

One of the things I have been most looking forward to has been sending our little one a care package. Now that we've accepted her referral, we finally get to send her something!

My experiences with care packages have typically been as the recipient...namely, in college- when I would get a large box from my mom filled with all the goodies I was too cheap (or too broke) to buy. I've sent things to friends and family- but never to a daughter I had yet to meet. 

Thankfully, many have gone before me and so I heeded their wise advice on what to send. In China, there are several companies that specialize in care packages & delivery to orphanages and you can order items through them or send a package yourself and have them deliver it to your child. We opted for the second option, because I knew I wanted to hand pick everything. One thing I am not sure of, however, is whether or not she will actually come home with the items I sent. There are mixed responses on this- some families say that their children come to them with all of the items they sent- and some (like clothing) are shared between all of the children in the home or orphanage. So, I couldn't be too attached to the items I sent- were they to be passed on to another child, that is just fine!

I had already collected several things for her, but because we didn't know what might actually make it home, I decided to get a few things that I wouldn't miss and save the most special things for when she is back home. So, here is what we sent:

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1) Swaddle blanket- Both Knox and Liv have loved these lightweight blankets and still request them for long car rides. This one is one of Liv's old ones. We included a hand-me-down for a couple of reasons- one, we have plenty more at home, and two- it smells like our home already. We are hoping that the smell will become familiar and help us be a tad less scary when we finally meet in China.

2) Baby doll- It was noted on one of the files we received that she loves playing with dolls (which is SO perfect because her sister does too!). So I knew I needed to send her one. Liv had already tried to steal this one a couple of times before I got it in the box to mail! Haha!

3) Pajamas- I half expect her to be wearing these the day we receive her in China, having been mistaken for regular clothes! I'm already regretting not putting in any actual outfits, haha- oh well, we shall see!

4) Family photo album from Pinhole Press- this is the MOST important item I sent. (Thank you Lauren Clark Photography for the awesome photos!) Because she is just two I really wanted to find a book with thick, easy to turn pages. I am praying that seeing our faces will make us more familiar and less scary for her, and that God uses this book and these photos to show her love, safety and hope. I know she's only two, but there is no limit to what God can do!  Many adoptive families have said that their children recognized them immediately upon meeting because their caregivers had gone through their family photo album with them daily. So neat and a testament to the work that they do.

One of the coolest parts about using a service like this is that they include a free letter translation. So, one day last week I sat down to write my first letter to my almost two year old daughter, whom I have yet to meet in person. Talk about a big task!

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Rather than get poetic (which doesn't translate very well), I was short and sweet. I also wrote a longer note to her foster family (she has lived in a foster family most of her life- something we are so thankful for). Writing that second note was more emotional than the first! How do you thank someone for giving your child a shot at a home and family? My gratitude for them is so huge...but that's another blog post. 

Lastly, we also sent a USB flash drive with a request to photograph everything! I would be so overjoyed to have photos of the home she lived in, the places she slept, ate and played...the faces who took care of her. We do not know if we will get to meet her foster family or see where she lived, and we won't know until we are there- but for her sake I'm making it my job to gather as much information as I can about her life in China. 

I cried when I took this package to the post office and the clerk told me it would arrive February 23rd. That's just 2 days before her 2nd birthday- so there is a chance it will arrive to her on her actual birthday! Also- fun fact- because her birthday is 1 day after Liv's, this year they will technically be celebrating at the exact same time! China is 12 hours difference from Texas- so one's birthday breakfast will likely also be the other's birthday dinner. I treasure things like this in my heart. 

Hope you enjoyed this post! I've got so much more to write about our journey, so stay tuned!


I'm also selling these cute personalized zipper pouches and keychains to pay for the last few fees we have- I'd love to make one for you!

FRESH OUTLOOK • playlist

LIFESTYLElissa-anglinComment
We are about DONE with this cold winter weather. Entertaining kiddos inside all day is making us a little cray cray.

We are about DONE with this cold winter weather. Entertaining kiddos inside all day is making us a little cray cray.

When it comes to listening to music, Shawn and I tend to annoy each other.

Shawn loves the beat, the individual instruments..."did you hear that sweet loop"?

And I'm like, "did you even listen to the lyrics?!"

So when we both like something, it's like...explosions in the sky.

(+1000 points if you get that reference)

I'm constantly updating my Spotify playlists, and today I'm sharing one that is just chock FULL of positive/upbeat/happy/vibey/go-get-em-ness. It's the music I play when I want to just get lost in the music, sing out the lyrics and shake my booty a little. So, this one is for you, girl who finally got out of town and has a road trip ahead of her. Or mom who needs to forget that your kid just peed on the floor and you still have a load of laundry to fold. You got this. Just put on this playlist and GO.

I'm calling it FRESH OUTLOOK because it's still the beginning of a new year(ish) and all of these songs have me feeling just so darn optimistic. I hope you love it. 

Click here to open it in the Spotify app! 

Let me know if you have a listen!

the day we got the call!

Adoptionlissa-anglinComment

January 8, 2018.

Shawn and I had just returned from Houston, where we photographed and beautiful wedding. I had written this blog post just 7 days prior. (If you haven't read it yet, go- it's a great precursor to this one!) The kids were back at school after Christmas break, giving me some quiet time in our house – something I treasure dearly. Somehow, I had finished up all of my work for that day, and had decided to sit down and draw. This is something that I have been wanting to focus more on as of late, and so I signed up for an online bootcamp. It’s been really fun so far!

January‘s assignment for the bootcamp was to draw the contents of my purse, so I had dumped everything out on the table and was giving it a go. And then the phone rang.

For four years, I had imagined that moment. When I would look down and see a Virginia number pop up on my screen (our agency is located in Virginia). There have even been a few times that I’ve received a call from Virginia and it turned out to be a telemarketer! They didn’t get the warmest response :-). But this time, it was real. It was happening.

I picked up the phone to hear our agency coordinator say, "Hi Lissa, it’s Leah – do you have a few minutes?" Um, yes- I have many minutes. However many minutes you want to have!

Leah then said the words I’ve been hoping to hear for so many years..."So we received several referrals, and I have a file for your family to review..."


In Chinese adoption, adoption agencies receive files on specific children from the Chinese government, and then they are able to match those files with the families on their waiting lists. There is no rhyme or reason, nor cadence to the frequency in which they receive files, and it often takes quite a while for the files to travel through all of the necessary offices within each government for them to finally arrive in the hands of the adoption agency. This is one reason that most of the children adopted from China are at least 18 months old- it simply takes time for the files to reach the agency's hands, and children keep growing. :)

They then refer those files out individual families, one at a time. Our specific file was exclusive to our agency for a period of 21 days, and in order to keep the process as efficient as possible, we needed to be able to review her information, and make a decision within 72 hours – so that if in the case that we chose not to accept this referral, they could then refer her to another family. So, we needed to make a decision relatively quickly.


Leah talked me through the files she had on our daughter.

She is almost two years old, born 1 day and 1 year after our daughter Liv.

There was a newborn photo included- which is unheard of and something we are so thankful to have- and a very small passport-style photo of her at one year old. The rest of the files were all medical records that had been translated into English. I talked with Leah for a half hour, and then called Shawn, still in total shock.

Our late-night reading has looked a little different lately- this book "Mine In China" is GOLDEN if you are adopting from China.

Our late-night reading has looked a little different lately- this book "Mine In China" is GOLDEN if you are adopting from China.

Shawn was up at our store, which we were in the process of closing down for good. He had been working his tail off for at least a month now, working from 9 AM to 7 PM, and doing everything he could to make sure the transition was smooth. I hardly even knew what to say other than. "we got the call! THE call!" I don’t think he had any idea it was coming.

The next 45 minutes seems like hours as we waited for Leah to email us her photo, and the rest of her files. I had dreamed of opening this email together with Shawn, sitting at home – but when it came down to it, we couldn't be in the same place and just didn’t care anymore! We had a new daughter!

When the email finally came, I just cried. There are so many details about her and her story that our evidence of God‘s great love for us. Even now, weeks later, I am realizing on a daily basis how detailed and specific an extravagant our God is in the way he loves us. Those are the things I want to be sure to share here in this space.

Once we received her information, we knew we needed to get a few consultations with doctors. Our pediatrician took time out of his busy day (hello flu season!), just look over our files and discuss them with us. We were also able to speak with a group of doctors who offer this service for free for adoptive parents. We are also very thankful for Dr. Chambers of Children's of Alabama who reviewed her files for us as well and went over every detail. Dr. Chambers is not only an international adoption specialist, but she has daughters adopted from China as well, so that was extra comforting to me. Once we had the doctors' professional opinions, we were all in.

At this point, we submitted our LOI (Letter of Intent to Adopt) to the People's Republic of China, and would wait for a LOA (Letter of Acceptance) before anything was official. It was a tough few weeks not being able to be public about our referrals we waited, but at least we had some photos to look at 1000x a day!

Once we received the official LOA, we celebrated! And began a new mountain of paperwork, haha...

Remember how I mentioned her birthday earlier? Our daughter was born on February 25, 2016. This is a big deal because we wanted at least a one year gap between Liv and our newest addition, which is another part of the reason we have waited so long (17 months). (Our agency won't refer us any children that didn't match the requests we had made when we first began our adoption process- i.e. gender, age range and special needs we were comfortable with). I couldn’t believe it when Leah told us her birthday – it is literally one day and one year after Liv's! I feel like this is such a special detail because over the past few years, I have had many desperate conversations with God where He has graciously heard me ask why we continued to wait over and over. I feel like in giving our new daughter a birthday literally one day and one year after Liv's, he saying to me, "See? I didn’t make you wait one more day then you needed to". 

I also think that it is no mistake that we received our referral at the same time we were closing our store. Shawn has been more available to help than he has in the past 6 years and right now I am SO thankful for that. We have about 1000 plates spinning right now and I have needed his help so much. I also know that the Lord has used our new daughter to plant hope in our hearts when we could be focused on the end of this chapter. 

You may have noticed I haven't shared much about her medical needs or any photos of her yet. We have decided to wait until we are with her in China to share photos of her, and wait until we are back home and can see our doctors here to share about her medical diagnosis. I can tell you- she is adorable, as big as Liv already, and that her medical needs (as far as we know) are surprisingly low-maintenance and do not seem to inhibit her whatsoever. Thanks for being understanding about this- her privacy and her story are worth protecting and are really hers to tell, so we want to be sure to honor that. I do plan to share more about her medical needs specifically- simply because I think that is one of the things that concerns people most when considering international adoption- but we want to make sure we have the best understanding of everything first, and that will take a few doctor visits here in the US first. :)

So, she will be two by the time we receive her China. This makes me very excited and also very nervous to have a two, Three, and seven-year-old – but I can’t have been the first, right?!?


To answer a few other questions I have received, I am just going to list out a few things below:

She does not know any English yet, and we do not know any Mandarin, really – but we are going to do our very best, and trust in time will be speaking the same language :-) One friend recommended learning simple words in Mandarin and teaching her sign language to bridge the gap. I love this idea and plan on doing that. We also have some helpful apps.

We do not know our specific travel dates yet, as we are waiting for some paperwork to process, but we hope to travel in April. Our trip will be about 2 1/2 weeks, and we will bring her home permanently. It is just one trip. During our time in China, we will go through several appointments, a medical review, and wait for her visa to process. When she lands on US soil, she will be an American citizen!

We plan to take both Knox and Liv with us, as we believe they would be present were we having a new biological child, we want them to be part of our new daughter's story as well.


Thanks for reading! I'm planning another post specifically about our trip to China next. Feel free to leave questions in the comments section- I think adoption is awesome and want to educate as much as I can about it. 

Related blog posts:

Why we chose International Adoption

Why we said "Yes" to special needs