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
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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 2: China Finalization and Orphanage Visit

We went to the Civil Affairs office first thing to finalize Maeli's adoption for China. There were three other families who also took the oath. We were given a certificate and the official told us that the adoption is complete and final in China.

As we were walking out of the office, Maeli looked at us, smiled, and said "I'm so happy." How I loved hearing those words. I told her we were very happy!

There are no words to convey how difficult visiting the institute was today. It took almost 3 hours by van to get there. Maeli was happy to see her friends, but I don't think she realized how difficult it would be to say goodbye. When we arrived, the man who is stationed at the gate wasn't going to let us in. But Maeli spoke up in Chinese and he smiled and waved us by. It was sweet to see the exchange just between the two of them and know that he thought kindly of her.

When we pulled in, it wasn't the image I had created in my mind from the numerous times I had looked at photos online. The orphanage is situated in a rural part of town where many of the buildings are abandoned or falling down.

As we were getting out of the van, Ray and Tammy, the American volunteers greeted us. You can tell just how much they love the children and Maeli as she ran to them for hugs. It brought great joy to know that she has been genuinely cared about there.

We then put our things in their room and went to have a meal with them since we missed lunch while at the notary office in Luoyang. In order to get to the cafeteria, you must exit the main building. As we walked across the front of the institute toward the cafeteria there were tiny faces and hands pressed against the glass and bars of the windows. Those faces trying to get a peak of us. Seeing them held captive by the lack of family inside the walls of the institute was heartbreaking.

Harry, who translates for Ray and Tammy, also joined us. He was very fond of Maeli and they were able to give us more insight on her academic abilities. Tammy says, as we suspected from just the 24 hours we've had her, that Maeli is very smart in her native language as well as a very good student in English class. She can sound out many words.

The meal was great and it was nice to have some authentic Chinese food but most importantly being able to talk to someone who has spent the last year with our daughter was priceless. Even more amazing is the fact that they only live about three hours away from our home when they return to America.

Once we finished eating, it was time to "tour" the orphanage and allow Maeli to see her friends one last time. Some will be coming to America soon and she will see again. Others may never get that opportunity due to lack of paperwork or the red tape of the adoption process.

When we came back to the front lobby of the orphanage to tour, a worker told us the Maeli's birthfather was there and wanted to say some final words to her. He had traveled two hours by car to tell her goodbye one last time. Maeli went into the room and they were able to have some time together. Maeli returned and I wrapped my arm around her and she smiled at me.

We were led upstairs to a large room where at least 75 children sat waiting for us to arrive. The orphanage had prepared gifts for Maeli and our family. There were several children who were close friends of Maeli that spoke and presented the gifts. One girl, Maeli's best friend left at the orphanage, was very emotional as she spoke. I couldn't imagine the pain of knowing she was losing her best friend and didn't know if or when they would ever see each other again. As I watched her friend speak and sob, I couldn't help but think that only 3 months ago Maeli had been in her shoes saying goodbye to her best friend who was adopted. In some ways, I felt the ceremony was harsh. Maybe it gave some hope, but to sit in those chairs and wonder if your time would ever come must be unthinkable...

It was very evident during our visit that Maeli was loved by the children there as well as the workers and caretakers.

As we left the room upstairs and made our way outside, her father sat in the office. We stopped in for Maeli to hug him and for us to say a few words. He thanked us for adopting her. I wept as I tried to comprehend what gratitude and grief must be contained in those words. As they hugged one final time, I tried to capture that moment in my mind, as I never want to forget the ultimate sacrifice he made to provide her with a family and a future. We thanked him and promised to love and care for her.

The children and workers followed us out to the van. They waved as we drove away and as I watched Maeli gaze out the window, I couldn't help but think of how difficult it is leaving what you know, even for something better. It reminded me of God's love for us and how we can complacent in our lives that we aren't willing to change for something better.

That day changed my life. I will never forget the many faces looking at me as I sat at the front of the room. So many children full of potential but lacking the love of a family. So many eyes, yearning for attention. I'm thankful that as we drove away that day I knew there was 1 less face waiting for a family and God had given me the privilege of being her mom.

- Jessica


  1. I have sobbed and sobbed reading this post. Thank you Maeli for your bravness, it is something to be shared with others. Thank you Jessica for having the heart and courage to take that step of adoption and serving God the way he intended. God bless you all, I look forward to reading more on Maeli :)

  2. Tears won't stop; what a beautiful yet painful story. Maeli is such a brave girl. What an amazing gift you have all been given. Our God is an powerful God and adoption continues to be a journey of the heart that brings so much adventure, emotion, and most of all love. I love keeping up with your wonderful story.