to China for Clementine: to Guangzhou

Today we head to Guangzhou.

Which means that, other than the necessary traveling we will do, we are staying put in the hotel until it’s go time.

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So, since it’s a quiet day for us, I thought I’d take the chance to write down some thoughts on our girl.

What I’ve learned so far about this sweet, sweet soul.

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She is silly. She loves to laugh and smile and to see you laugh and smile, too.

She is constantly changing faces – I could take 100 pictures in a row and her expression would be different in every one. Part of me thinks she knows exactly what she’s doing, and loves to mesmerize us with her silly-face-making self.

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She is easy-going.

And I mean crazy-easy-going. We have bathed her in a too-small sink, removed an IV port from her foot, given her all kinds of medicines including inhalers, fed her strange foods, overwhelmed her with our strange faces, taken her strange places… and she just takes it all in. Even the things she clearly resists (who wants someone pulling on their IV site?) she let’s us know she’s not happy but then forgives us. Smiles, even, when we snuggle her and tell her we’re sorry to have to do those things and how very proud of her we are.

We have been watching her closely and we are learning some of her non-verbal cues but – so far – this child is essentially unflappable. Other than a squeak or two, she’s never complained.

Not that doesn’t mean she doesn’t make her needs known. (And not that she won’t completely make me eat my words between now and the flight home.)

Just yesterday at the park, about an hour in, she began to get somber and serious and started to avoid our gaze. That’s when we knew it was time to go. Thankfully the car was close and as soon as we got in, unbundled her, and began to engage her, she came back to life. By the time we got back to the hotel room she was all smiles.

We are also learning that a turn away, or a hand up means no thank you. And a huge grin and legs kicking means yes please!. And every day, like men on a mission, we are finding more and more that induces the grins and kicks.

Today it was banana puffs.

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She is mighty.

She’s tough. Resilient. Surprisingly hardy for such a little bug. She can eat her body weight in steamed egg and congee (with some spice, please), and then polish off a 6 ounce bottle of formula.

She’ll try new things and even if she’s not crazy about it, she’ll give it a few bites before the official thumbs down. She even eats some solid food which – considering she only has one bottom tooth (so cute, btw!) – is impressive. I have a feeling that by the time she has her front four teeth in, she’ll be eating pretty much anything she wants.

And I have a feeling I’ll be giving her pretty much anything she wants.

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She is loving.

Despite the fact that she was first in her birth family, then an orphanage and then three foster-care settings, Clementine loves to love.

When we hold her she will wrap her tiny hand around one our fingers and squeeze. She will reach for us – an arm, a face, or just do a full-body hurl into our lap. She likes to run her fingers through my hair, too. (Chris’s? Not so much.)

She loves raspberries on her tummy and tickles under her arms. Even when we act like we are about to tickle her, she giggles. She loves to be carried and snuggled and will even reach for me over being put down to play. But she’s not anxious about it. Or fretful. She just takes all that she can get of it, and thankfully we’ve got a lot to give.

Truly, someone has been loving on this baby girl, and we are forever grateful.

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What else do I know about Clementine?

I am smitten. Clementine might just think I’m kinda okay at this point, but that’s perfectly understandable.

I think she is positively wonderful. Adorable. Precious.

As I’ve shared here before, I was anxious about how I might respond the moment I met Clementine. I’ve never even been around a child with Down syndrome, much less held one in my arms. So the idea of going to China to bring home this child to love, care for and mother forever was just impossible for me to visualize. I might have been 100% wrong in the way I’d imagined my other kiddos to be on adoption day, but at least I had a visual.

With Clementine, all I had was a blank (and occasionally scary) slate. Add to that the lack of updates, her heart issues and her significant hospitalizations and I was way, waaaay out of my comfort zone.

But The Lord went before us. He so very clearly brought her into our path at just the right time. He stirred our hearts in a way that we knew for sure to be Him. He mobilized His people (you guys!) as well as our families to support, encourage and pray for us and for Clementine every step of this journey. And He surrounded us with a church family to love on and support us at home in a way we have never experienced before. (My kids at home are eating better and doing more fun things than, well… let’s just say they’re not in a big hurry for us to get home.)

He made the path clear. And then He gave us just what we needed at every step. All we had to do was obey. He didn’t even mind that I was quaking in my boots along the way, He just gently reminded me of His sovereignty and my lack thereof.

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Let me just tell you. His plans are better.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21


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to China for Clementine: Martyr’s Park

With the okay of our wonderful pediatrician for a short excursion in good weather, we bundled up our girl and headed out.

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Since this is the closest we will get to her hometown of Loudi (a three hour drive each way so a visit this trip was just not possible), we wanted to see a little more of Changsha than the two block radius of the hotel.

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Because – although we do know a half-dozen amazing restaurants – we haven’t gotten out much.

And Martyr’s Park sounded like the perfect solution.

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And that it was.

Today was like a breath of fresh air…

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A lesson in Chinese history…

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And a walk in the park, all in one.

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With a red berry ice cream cone from McDonald’s on top.

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The view was pretty spectacular, too.

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And on our way out, Sophie made a new friend.

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Maybe admirer is a better word.

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All in all, it was a pretty wonderful way to spend our last full day in Clementine’s province.

Next stop, Guangzhou.

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to China for Clementine: a down day

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Today we rested. It just seemed like the obvious choice with our girl still so sick. Which meant staying in the room and doing everything we could to keep her anxiety to a minimum. It also meant keeping the camera out of her face. But after she woke up, took a bottle and filled a […]

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to china for Clementine: at last

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Today was the day. After several false starts and heart wrenching delays, Clementine day has arrived. The day started out slowly as we readied ourselves (much like we did yesterday, as that was supposed to be the big day) and silently braced for the possibility of another late morning phone call with news we did […]

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to China for Clementine: the Great Wall

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Yesterday was a roller-coaster of emotion. Before we even headed down to breakfast, we got a phone call from our guide, Helen. Chris took the call. Despite the fact that I was all the way across the room, I could make out a few words. Sick. Hospital. Pneumonia. Our plans for the day – to […]

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to China for Clementine

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We are here. We landed safely yesterday and other than a certain someone tossing her cookies in the immigration line, it was a flawless travel day. We arrived at our hotel with just enough time to catch our breath and brush our teeth. Then we went out for a short walk to a local noodle […]

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I’m gonna miss ‘em.

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So what does a mama do, when she should be packing for China? She ventures into the fall-colored woods with her kiddos and takes pictures of their sweet faces. Because she’s gonna miss ‘em. Crazy to me that I’ll be leaving in a little over 24 hours. And I’ll be away for 2 whole weeks. […]

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going to China

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And we are going soon. Like a week from today, y’all. We found out last night that our request for a Consulate appointment on the 24th of November was approved. Which means we will be holding sweet Clementine in our arms on the 17th. Only 12 days from today. And guess what else we got? […]

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best Monday ever.

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We are jumping for joy around here. We got travel approval, y’all. If you’re not hip with the current adoption lingo, (heck, I don’t even know what it all means) *travel approval* means that China has given us the final a-okay. They’ve checked the come-on-over-and-squeeze-your-baby-girl-for-the-first-time-ever box. And we are ecstatic. Hoping to get our consulate […]

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orphan sunday

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Today is Orphan Sunday. We watched a video in church that was created to celebrate all the children who have come home to families in our church through adoption. Some from Ethiopia. South Korea. Alabama. And a few especially adorable ones from China that, when their faces flashed across the screen, might have made me […]

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