We Survived “Gotcha” Day

Li Zhong at the end of Gotcha DayWe did in fact survive “gotcha” day. Most of the little girls were late, as they were stuck in traffic on their way into Nanchang. So we waited. After three-plus years, what’s another 45 minutes? First four showed up, then the remaining five. As they came in, we could hear one of them screaming. Not crying. Screaming. That would be our Li Zhong.

That picture, taken a few minutes after 9pm, represents the only time since we were handed her by one of the orphanage workers that she wasn’t screaming. She just finally wore herself out after almost four hours of pretty much non-stop crying. I’m not sure who in that picture is more tired.

We couldn’t get her to eat anything, so I’m sure she is going to wake up starving. We’ve got an early start tomorrow with appointments at several of the government officials to get the paperwork for her visa started, then a trip to Wal-Mart — yes, that store, even in Nanchang — for baby supplies.

So, for all of you out there reading this, keep us in our prayers… the next few days are definitely going to be hard on all of us. Having said that, though, it is moments like these that both give us hope and make it all worth it.

One week and counting (down)…

One week from today — less if you take the time difference between here and there into account — we will be in Nanchang and will welcome Li Zhong into our family. At times, it seems hard to believe that more than 3 years have passed since we started this journey. The only thing that really made that time period bearable was our faith that God had a plan for all of this, and that it simply wasn’t yet time for us be matched with a little girl — until now.

These past couple weeks have seemed to take absolutely forever. Time seems to have slowed to a crawl… and yet, as with so many other things, that has worked out: I’ve been able to clear almost all of the major work-related deliverables off my plate, something that just didn’t seem possible 10 days ago.

The timing of our trip with Ian’s spring break from school also counts as just one more little miracle in this process, being just about the only time during the school year that would make it even marginally feasible for him to be part of this next part of our adoption adventure.

Please keep all of us in your prayers these next few weeks: for safe travel for all of us to, in, and from China, and for peace and patience for all of us including Li as we go through a life-changing transition.

Now, back to packing, and list-checking.

Grace

Now that we have been matched with Li Zhong, we have to let our adoption agency know — officially — what our daughter’s “English” name will be once the adoption has been finalized. This is something Deb and I have talked about since we started this process. I don’t remember where within these past three years we reached this decision, but early on we settled on “Grace” for her first name.

Her name will be Grace Li Zhong…

“Grace” as in God’s grace, as in a gift, something precious given solely out of love without expectation and unearned. We will keep her given Chinese name because it’s beautiful (literally) and because from the minute we saw our first small photograph of her, we knew it fit. “Li” means beautiful and “Zhong” means China or middle of China. We will probably call her Li (or something based on that) when we welcome her to our family.

Grace Li Zhong: a beautiful gift of God, given from the heart of China.

Winter Storms and the Chinese Orphanages

We’ve been watching the news sites (the BBC News site has had the most information) the past three weeks with more than a little anxiety as they have reported on the impacts of the winter storms in China and the massive problems those storms have caused the people of China. The storms have caused massive power outages — some still on-going, even at this point three weeks later — and disrupted pretty much all of the travel and transportation in large parts of the country. Those storms hit just as millions of people were trying to return to their families to celebrate the start of the Chinese lunar new year this past week.

With a little girl somewhere in China, possibly in the midst of this, we have been praying fervently (and asking for prayers) for all of the orphanages and the people of China as they struggle with this.

Our adoption agency posted a bit of information yesterday indicating that Li Zhong’s orphanage is doing fine and the children are all OK. Many of the other orphanages in the most heavily impacted provinces are still dealing with lack of power and/or lack of heat. Almost all of the orphanages in the impacted areas of China are dealing with shortages of supplies (e.g., water, diapers, medicine) as a result of the disruptions of transportation.

Knowing that Li Zhong’s orphanage is doing OK is a huge relief and an answer to our most immediate prayers, but there are still millions of people in China, including not just the orphans and their caregivers but also all of the families whose homes have been destroyed (one BBC News article indicated over a million homes had been destroyed or damaged by the storms), those who could not return home to their families for the holiday, and the Chinese government, who need our prayers and our help. Please keep praying…

More Details…

Li ZhongWe got our packet today with more details about our Li Zhong…

“Li” means beautiful, and “Zhong” means China or middle of China. She was taken in at the orphanage on January 16, 2007. Based on the report we have, she typically wakes up around 7:30 am, takes a two-hour nap around noon, and goes to bed around 8:00 pm. She’s a “moderate” sleeper, and doesn’t need to eat during the night. In addition to rice- and milk-based formula, she eats eggs and noodles. She sits alone steadily, holds her head up while lying on her stomach, rolls over on her own, tears paper (hmmm…), and juggles. OK, that’s an exaggeration: she can hold blocks in both hands at the same time, and can pick up blocks with either hand.

She knows her name when she’s called, imitates sounds, follows motion by moving her head from side to side, and distinguishes between strangers and acquaintances. She laughs aloud, has a ready smile, has quick reactions, and she is described as active, restless at times, and sometimes impatient (sounds kind of like me). Her favorite activity is playing outside and her favorite toys are little animal toys.

The most recent medical information we have is from late October, and at that time she was just over 29 inches tall and weighed a little less than 19 pounds. We don’t know if that is with or without clothes, which might be significant as we’ve heard several times that they tend to overdress the children. (We’re guessing those cheeks are good for about 6 pounds each.) Everything (vision, hearing, heart, bones, mental development, blood count, hepatitis stuff) all checked out normal.

She sounds like a happy, healthy little girl.