Thursday, October 18, 2012

Julia Day Video!

I can't figure out how to add the actual video to this page, so I'm just going to put the link.  I hope you enjoy watching Julia's transformation as much as we've enjoyed living it!

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Life of Hope, by guest blogger Amie Rapp

*One of the projects in Amie's seventh grade writing class was to write a memoir that included an ah-ha moment.  This is the assignment she turned in.  I wanted to share it because when families with children already in the home are considering adoption, one of the biggest concerns is the effect it will have on those children.  We love the way God is using Julia's adoption to speak to Amie's heart!

A Life of Hope
By Amie Rapp
 I always wanted to work with animals- always, ever since I was 5. I was fascinated by the way veterinarians healed sick animals. I wanted to teach my dog to do all those cool tricks animal trainers did on TV. I thought maybe a marine biologist would be my career. But that all changed last summer, the summer we got my sister. The summer that changed my life and how I viewed it.
When I found out I was getting a beautiful little sister from China, I was thrilled!  I'd always wanted a little sister and I love kids! Already my "animal passion" was giving way to a love for teaching and a dream of mission work. I realized an amazing way to combine the two would be to work with orphans! I wanted to do something to help the orphans who wouldn't be as fortunate as my sister to get adopted. I thought about the different places where that line of work could take me- Africa, Haiti, but my heart was definitely drawn to China. After all, that's where my sister was from. And those sweet little Asian faces just melted my heart. I read numerous blogs about people who'd adopted from there and even made a new friend, Meredith, who'd gone to China and worked in an orphanage called New Day where she met her future little sister!
        The day finally came for my parents to leave for China. Two LOOOONG weeks later, in some down-time when we weren't playing with my new, absolutely precious sister, my mom told me about a family they'd met in China. She said they'd adopted a girl named Lizzie who was the same age as me. It made me stop and think about my wonderful life here in America. I have the best parents ever, two siblings, a nice house, and a great life overall. But what if I hadn't? What if I didn't have the awesome family I have now? Would I be a totally different person?  I guarantee I would be. My mom's voice brought me out of my thoughts. She said the family had been hurrying to get her because when the girls in the orphanages in China turn 14, they get kicked out. They are just turned out onto the street with no one there for them. Once again I thought about if that were happening to me. Could I go out into the ginormous world in just a little over a year? I don't think so. I can't even walk around our quiet neighborhood by myself! So what about those girls in China? How do they do it?
        And right then and there, I knew what I wanted to do. I want to do something to change the world, or at least some of it.  I want to go to China and start a home for these girls and help them start a new life- a life of hope.

Having a little fun with accessories.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Number One Dad!

Today Barry took the girls (that still sounds funny to say) out for lunch and to run some errands.  They came home with a swing just the right size for Julia!  Another wonderful first-

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Playing in the Rain

"There's a first time for everything" takes on a whole new meaning when you've spent your first four years in an orphanage, so when the downpour started this evening, we had to let Julia have her first time playing in the rain with Amie.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Breakfast in bed...

Maybe lying down wasn't the best plan...

That little chin was just too ticklish to let anyone clean up those Cheerios!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What if...

What if Jen and I hadn't become friends over 20 years ago?  God knew back then that one day she would adopt and would become my example and mentor through the process.

What if I hadn't had Jamey for a student over 15 years ago?  God used him to teach me that children with limb differences are amazing and unstoppable.  Because of him, I wasn't intimidated by Julia's limb difference when I reviewed her file.

What if Jacob hadn't had Mrs. Bratcher for his second grade teacher?  God used her to reignite my love for teaching which led to the job that helped to fund this adoption.

What if we let the fact that we didn't have the finances to start this adoption keep us from doing just that?  God provided!  He used personal sacrifice and hard work on our parts as well as the generosity of friends and a grant through Show Hope to take care of every penny needed.

What if we felt led to adopt but didn't want to do anything that would rock the boat of our kids' contented lives?  God has used this process to open our kids' eyes to the needy of the world and to change their hearts to think beyond themselves.

What if we thought that adoption was a really great thing...for someone else's family?  Then we would have missed out on this-

and this,

and this,

and this,

and this,

and this,

and this,

and this,

and this.

Long before we realized it, God was working behind the scenes to put each piece of the puzzle in place so that we could be a family.  What if we had missed it?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


We left our hotel to start our trip home on Thursday morning at 6:15, and after a 2 1/2 hour van ride to Hong Kong, a 15 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago, a 2 hour flight from Chicago to Charlotte, and a 2 hour drive home from Charlotte (with a stop at Chick-fil-a on the way), we pulled into our driveway with a little girl in the backseat of our car.  It was one thing to have her with us in China, but it was a very surreal feeling to actually bring her home with us!

It was so fun to introduce the kids to each other!  It didn't take them long to get out the toys and start playing together (even though it was about 11:00 p.m.).

So here we are, after a year of waiting, hoping, and praying.  We've added a tiny girl with a huge personality to our family, and we couldn't be more thankful for God's grace and His provision!

A Little More Catching Up...

On Friday we flew from Shanghai to Guangzhou to process the American portion of the adoption.  It was a two hour flight, and Julia did really well! 

After the frenetic pace of Shanghai, Guangzhou seemed like a tropical paradise.  Our guide explained to us that mopeds and horn honking were not allowed within the city limits.  No wonder it was so quiet!

After settling in to the beautiful hotel that our adoption agency uses for families, we headed out to check out our surroundings and to get some dinner.  The area was so family-friendly, and we found an excellent Mexican restaurant which quickly became our favorite.  Julia experienced what was probably her first stroller ride in the pouring rain when we left the restaurant to walk (run) back to the hotel.  She was soaked, but she laughed the entire time.

On Saturday, Julia had to have her medical exam and her picture taken for her visa.  She wasn't a big fan of either, but she rallied when it was time for her tb test and didn't shed a tear during the needle stick. 

After the appointment, it was back to the hotel for some lunch and some down-time.  I know it sounds like we spent a lot of time just hanging around, but that was really our goal.  Julia's world, prior to coming to us, was very small and simple.  She had never experienced the parent/child dynamic, so our agency recommended that we keep things low-key and spend lots of time just playing and interacting.  This was excellent advice, and we had a wonderful time spending time together and bonding.  We did some sightseeing, but that wasn't really the priority on this trip.  We wanted Julia to feel safe and comfortable with us and to know in the depths of her heart that she was our daughter.

Sunday was Father's Day.  It was strange for Barry not to be with Amie and Jacob, but what a treat to share some firsts with Julia!

Her first carousel ride:

Her first water fight:

And her first time riding up and down the escalator just for the fun of it:

I think they're going to be pretty good friends!

On Monday we went to Shamian Island which was a beautiful, tropical shopping area.  The American Embassy was on the island for a long time, but it has moved and one of the main hotels is closed for renovations, so many stores have had to shut their doors.  We enjoyed walking around and did a little shopping.  In its prime, people would bargain with the store owners, but we didn't have the heart to negotiate at all because of how empty every store seemed.  We tried to spread our purchasing around so that we could buy from several vendors even though most of them carried the same items.  It was a really fun day, and the highlight came when we met some shop owners who were Christians.  Barry asked them to tell Julia that Jesus loves her.  It was very sweet to see them make eye contact and to watch Julia nod her little head as the lady explained God's love to her in a very simple way.  We're thankful to the Lord for seeds planted in Julia's heart in her native language.

Tuesday was a big day because it was our Consulate Appointment.  A friend of mine in the adoption community compared it to visiting the DMV, and that was a very accurate assessment.  It is the appointment around which your whole adoption trip is scheduled, and with all the hype surrounding it, you want to envision a courtroom-like setting or something formal enough to dress up for.  The reality of it was a group of families in a building that didn't appear to have air-conditioning, waiting to be called one at a time to a window where we slid our paperwork under the glass and signed a few lines.  As a group, we had to raise our right hands and take an oath stating that the information which we provided was accurate, and I guess that was the "formal" part of the process.  The entire appointment took less than an hour, most of which was spent waiting in a hallway.  We did have a cute little soon-to-be American with us, and that was the fun part.
We went back to the island on Tuesday to take some pictures of Julia with the statues.

After pictures, we headed to Starbucks to cool off a bit before doing some more shopping,

and then back to the hotel for a dip in the pool.

On Wednesday, we spent the day enjoying the gardens of the hotel and packing for our trip home.  Julia especially liked watching the fish in the ponds.

One more night, and we were heading HOME!
We couldn't wait for Julia to meet the brother
and sister she had spent so much time skyping with!