Video of Ya Nan Singing-at 8:30 on video

Our Beautiful Ya Nan

Our Beautiful Ya Nan
From the moment I saw her, I knew she had my heart...

Our Timeline

8-21-12: Saw our Daughter's face for the first time
8-31-12: Decided she is indeed a Johnson
9-17-12: Home Study Visit
9-24-12: Home Study Visit
10-18-12: I800A received
11-5-12: Walk-in Fingerprints
11-28-12: I800A Approval
12-17-12: DTC
12-27-12: LOI
1-17-13: OOT
2-1-13: LOA (China approved 1-29)
2-4-13: I800 received at lockbox
2-15-13: I800 request for evidence
4-26-13: RFE sent
5-1-13: I800 Approved
5-6-13: GUZ #
5-7-13: Cabled
5-9-13: Article 5 Drop Off
6-11-13: Article 5 Approved
6-13-13: Article 5 Pick Up
6-21-13: TA
Leave for China!
Gotcha Day

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 8: Shopping for China Gifts

We didn't have anything formal on the agenda for today, so Maeli and went shopping for gifts and souvenirs while the boys swam at the hotel. I wanted to get something for Maeli to have for each "Gotcha Day" until she turns 18. So with my list in hand we went shopping with Ann, an adoption advocate. She helped us send Maeli's birthday package in April so it was great to meet her in person. Lots of adoptive families go shopping with her because she knows where to find the best prices and knows where the stores are located.

I wanted to make sure we purchased a couple Chinese dresses for Maeli to wear for family photos and special occasions. She found a couple of headpieces she thought we needed, lol! Her sense of humor makes me laugh!

After silk and tea set shopping, we went to the pearl market. I was fascinated by all the pearls stacked in the shops. China is known for pearls and jade so I wanted to make sure we brought some of each back for Maeli. We purchased a pearl necklace, bracelet, and earrings that were made out of a strand I picked out. The clasp says happiness in Chinese and will be a great graduation or gotcha gift for when she turns 18.

Ann took us to a traditional Chinese restaurant for lunch. She said this place in particular is very popular and she was right! It is natural to eat at the same table with people you don't know if there aren't open tables. We sat with someone for a few minutes and then had the table to ourselves. Maeli ordered her favorite, dumplings, and a mystery dish that I later learned was chicken feet! You can see them in the photo below... I ate the dumplings and beef I ordered, but let Maeli have the chicken feet! :)

After lunch we went to the jade market. It was neat to see the many shops lined with hundreds of pieces of jewelry. I couldn't imagine trying to make a decision without Ann's help! There are so many different colors and options! Ann helped us pick out some nice pieces and we made our way back to the hotel after a day of shopping success. The boys spent the day hanging out and swimming in the pool. We ventured out for dinner with Coco that night. We went to Paddy Field's an Irish restaurant where the guys could eat Western and the girls could have Chinese. After dinner, we said goodbye to Coco until we meet again in America at the end of July. We can't wait to see her again and look forward to spending the upcoming months together at home.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 7: Church and Shaimen Island

Today was a day I have looked forward to for a long time. I've spent many moments thinking about what it would be like to take our daughter to church for the first time in a country where it is illegal to evangelize. There is a church on an island in Guangzhou known to adoptive families. Until recently only Americans could attend. This morning was extra special because not only were we attending church together in English and Mandarin, but we were able to go as a family with my dear friend Coco. Coco and I had worshipped together in America at my home church this past year and after returning home, she face great opposition regarding her faith. Being in God's house and hearing His word in Chinese was a very moving experience. It gives a glimpse of His vastness. Knowing that we were worshiping in two languages and feeling the presence of God there made for a moving worship service.
I wasn't for sure how Maeli would react to going to church. Coco translated what the schedule was for the day and she said she had been wanting to go to church but had never been. She's mentioned Jesus in her cards and letters and even pointed out a photo of Jesus hanging in one of the shops. Her institute prepared and loved on her in BIG ways. I will be forever grateful for the seeds that were planted in her heart there.

The island is a beautiful place. There are many people there taking wedding photos and relaxing along the courtyards.

The island also has many restaurants and shops that cater to Western adoptive families. Some of the stores use the proceeds to help orphans in China.

Here the service schedule of church.

Today happened to be communion Sunday. It was a great opportunity to explain what communion means and for her to hear in her native language the story of the cross. The sermon was from 1 Corinthians and the pastor talked about the love of the church and the what love really is. I love when God reinforces exactly what we need to hear.

After the service, we went to the church bookstore and Maeli asked for a Bible. This is the first thing she has asked for since we got her. She specifically asked for an English/Chinese Bible. We were happy to get one for her. My prayer is that the word of God will fill her heart and she will grow to love and know Him deeply.

This is a famous photo spot for adoptive families.

We found a noodle shop close to our hotel that served a tasty lunch! All this for less than $10!

These are Chinese pancakes. I have to say they are delicious!!!

The kids loved the window markers. It was a great way for them to interact and have some fun.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 6: Medical Exam

This morning was the dreaded medical exam. We met our guide in the hotel lobby at 10:20. I didn't know exactly what to expect. When we arrived there were at least a dozen other families there at different stages of the medical appointment. The first room was for her visa photo. That was quick and painless. Then we waited while our guide processed Maeli's medical records with the receptionist. Her medical files from the institute are logged into the system and the medical office determines what additional immunizations are needed in order for Maeli to meet Hague requirements to immigrate to the United States. Unfortunately, the medical care standard in China is generally lower than America, therefore, any immunizations she receives here will have to be redone or a blood titer will be necessary to see if the immunizations were effective.

All children over the age of 2 are required to have a TB test. They draw blood for the test so that children don't have to return to have the skin read. We weren't allowed to go back for that portion but she came out smiling.

After the blood draw, she saw the physician who checked her ears and mouth.

At the next station, the nurse took her blood pressure, weight, height, and did a vision screening. They commented that her vision was very good!

The next room consisted of checking her heart, lungs, and a general examination of her body. Our last stop, which I didn't capture was the shot room. She had to get four additional immunizations in order to be current. I felt so bad for her! On the bright side, she misunderstood our guide and thought she had to get ten!!! She was relieved that it was "only" four! Bless her! She didn't cry and was a champ the whole time! I told her we would get her surprise when we left. :)

After we left the medical exam, we stopped at a grocery store that carried the same store brand as Wal-Mart. It was neat to see all the different kinds of foods. We found comfort in the potato chip aisle!

These are kinda of like beef jerky in America except the packages have food items like fish with bones, and other unidentifiable meats.

We didn't put any of these in our cart but they were interesting to look at!

In China, you have to pay for each plastic bag you use. We picked up a few China reusable shopping bags to bring home.

After we returned to the hotel and settled in, we met my wonderful friend, Coco at our hotel for lunch. She flew in to visit with us for a few days. It has been such a blessing to have native friends in China to help us with communicating with Maeli and to also give Maeli a sense of reassurance. Coco will be teaching Chinese in America next year, so it was neat for Maeli to meet her in China before she comes. We enjoyed Maeli's favorite foods: noodles and dumplings. I have to say I have grown to love them too and can't wait for Maeli to teach me how to cook them when we return home.

After dinner, we took the subway to a 7 floor wholesale shopping center. They have literally hundreds of shops that you can purchase jewelry, silks, toys, and other items. I was a little overwhelmed by all the shops and decided to wait and purchase most of the items on my gift list with Ann, a personal shopping assistant, on Monday. We did find a few things and it was neat to negotiate with the shop owners.