Friday, July 26, 2013

First Week with Abe

Here's a few of our favorite pictures with Abram... We've been busy with paperwork, road trips, and getting to know our sweet son. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Waiting in Beijing (part 2)

Sorry... This is my first time to update our blog from the iPad, and I'm experiencing some difficulties. So, the easiest thing for me to do is to post this in two parts.

Our third and final day consisted of seeing and climbing a very small part of the Great Wall. There were a TON of steps, but so exciting to finally see!

We repacked our suitcases tonight because in the morning we are heading out for Abram's province. It has been a wonderful time in Beijing, but we are ready to leave so we can finally meet our son!! 

But before we go, I wanted to post some funny pictures about common things we have seen in Beijing... 
1) We take tons of pictures everyday with the Chinese. They just walk right up to us and ask in their best English if they can take a picture with us. We feel like we are famous; it is so fun! On the Great Wall I think I took about 15 pictures in a row with different people. 
2) The men here are always walking around with their shirts up because it is so hot. You see it everywhere! Chris and one of the families we are traveling with couldn't resist playing along and taking a picture with a local, and finally... 
3) The famous split pants. I've heard about these and couldn't wait to see them. It's the pants they put their toddlers in to make potty training easier. So funny!!

Waiting in Beijing

Our agency advised us to arrive in Beijing a few days early to sightsee, rest up, get ride of jet lag, and get to know other adoptive families. So while we are waiting for our Gotcha Day we have enjoyed exploring Beijing.  While we lived in Japan, we never visited China. We wanted to save it for our adoption trip. We have been looking forward to this trip for awhile. :)

We arrived a day before the other families, so we had a day to explore on our own. Chris assigned me the job of finding something to do, and the first thing I saw was the water park. I love water parks! After breakfast, we headed out in a taxi with our swimsuits in our bag. The water park is in the water cube from the Beijing Olympics. It was quite an experience! After we walked around the Olympic park and also saw the Bird's Nest (where the opening ceremonies were).

The water cube from the Olympics

On the next morning, we met our travel group in the lobby while we waited for our bus and travel guide. We are with five other families. It's been fun to share each others stories and pictures. 

Our morning started off on a rickshaw ride through an old Chinese village where we had tea and snacks at a sweet lady's house.

Also, on our second day we toured The Forbidden City,  Tiananmen Square, a silk factory and saw a Chinese Acrobatic show. We had a fun, busy, and long day. For dinner, Chris and I set out on the subway to find our favorite place to eat while we lived in Sasebo... CoCo Curry! It was about 45 minutes away, but it was so worth it! We were in heaven!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Prayers as We Get Ready...

I can hardly believe that in less than 48 hours we will be on a plane headed to Beijing.  I can't wrap my mind around the thought that after 2 years of preparing for this, we are less than a week away from meeting our beautiful son, Abram.

Our house looks like a tornado hit it... trying to pack everything we could possibly need into one suitcase and two carry-ons is no small feat. I have compiled all packing lists from other adoptive families and made more trips to Target than I care to admit.  Packing for Chris and I is easy, but packing as first time parents to a 21-month old is a little more complicated.

We are experiencing a range of emotions from excited to worried to anxious to just plain happy.  Of course, I have another list for you... I do love my lists.  This time it's a list of specific prayers that we would appreciate you lifting up to our Heavenly Father while we are going through this journey...

1.  Peace:  We are praying that God will fill us with His peace in this time of uncertainty.  We have no idea what to expect and really what we are doing and we just need His peace.  Also, peace for sweet Abram's heart.  That God would calm his heart during this huge transition he is about to experience.

2.  Wisdom: I know this is a prayer for all first time parents, so this request shouldn't shock you.  I was talking to a friend at church today and I told him, "I don't just want to wing this, I want my parenting to be intentional." This can only be done through God's wisdom.

3.  Health: I (Stephanie) suffer from extreme motion sickness on a daily basis.  We are having to do a ton of traveling in China once we get Abram on every form of transportation possible. I am praying for God to take the nausea away from me so I can focus on loving and caring for Abram while we are traveling.  I usually go to sleep right when I get in my seat, and that really isn't an option now.  I know Chris is there, too, but I don't want to feel sick at all. I want to enjoy every minute of this!

4.  School: We are blessed that Chris is able to go with us on our three week trip, but just because he is leaving doesn't mean his classes stop. He is missing three weeks of intensive math courses.  Pray for him as he tries to keep up with his studies and that he is able to catch back up when we return.

5.  Attachment:  This is huge! Please pray that when we return home our attachment phases go well and that Abram is able to form healthy attachments. This is vital for his development and well-being.  I know we have a "plan" but it is God who is in complete control.

Thank you for not only praying for us while we are gone, but thank you for the prayers you have already lifted up on our behalf.  We have felt them along every step of the way.  Because we can't thank each of you individually, please know how much we truly appreciate all of them!

Keep checking our blog over the next three weeks to see pictures and read updates! Oh, and Chris is busy cramming all our stuff into bags, so please excuse the typo-s.  He usually proof reads these before I post them, but I'm on my own! :)

Cocooning Letter

Dear Family & Friends,

After almost two years, our precious Abram is finally coming home!  We know that each of you receiving this letter has, in some way, supported, loved and prayed for us.  He has no idea what an incredible group of family and friends await him! We will be leaving on Tuesday, July 16 to fly to Beijing. Our "Gothca Day" is July 22... that is when we will meet Abram for the first time and he will be given to us! We are asking that you keep us in your prayers while we are gone. Our prayer requests are for God's peace for us and Abram as he goes through this huge transition, wisdom as we become parents for the first time, and one specific prayer is that Stephanie doesn't get motion sick during our many travels in China.  Thank you in advance for your prayers! 

We would like to invite you to the San Jose International Airport to meet Abram when we arrive on Saturday, August 3, 2013.  We will arrive at 11:10am on United flight 9659 from Narita (Tokyo). Remember, we have to go through customs and immigration, so we will be delayed for a little while. We would love to see you at the airport!!

As ecstatic as we are about Abram entering our lives, it is also an uncertain time as we anticipate how he will adjust to his new family and surroundings.  As many of you know, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is very real and something we have to be proactively on our guard against.  Because of this reality and because of your care for Abram and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip you to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation - emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need, communicates that need, and the primary caretaker (usually mom) meets the need and soothes the child.  This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent; the baby is hungry, cries in distress, mom nurses & calms the baby - which teaches him that this person is safe and can be trusted.  By God's very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies which will affect their learning, conscience, growth and future relationships. The security provided by parents ultimately gives children a trust for and empathy towards others.

Obviously, children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process as the loss of a biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts.  The good news is that we can now rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional wounds!  As we hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed him, we can forge the missing parent/child bond.  As this process repeats between us, Abram will be able to learn that parents are safe to trust and to love deeply.  We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection and once Abram starts to establish this important bond he will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.  In many ways, Abram will be like other children who enter a family through birth; we will parent like other Christian families as we bring him up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord.  But initially there will be a few, key differences.  Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our Abram settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future. There are a few areas in which you can help us:

Setting physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if you limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Abram. This will (for a while) include things like holding, excessive hugging and kissing. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone - which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Abram should know that the people with whom he interacts are our trusted family and friends.

Redirecting Abram.  Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults and may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are "very friendly" but this is actually quite dangerous for the child.  As a result, until he has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct him to us if you see that he is seeking out food, affection or comfort.

Limiting New Stimuli.  Specifically we will limit visitors staying at our home to no more than 20-30 minutes for the first 6 weeks and we will limit our outings so as not to overwhelm his senses with new stimuli all at once.  Additionally, since our goal is to be the only ones to meet Abram’s needs during this initial time, this might mean that you won’t see us at normal functions for awhile... we don’t want to confuse Abram by leaving him in child care.

To be honest, the boundaries we have set will be difficult at times, it would be easier to ignore the education and research-- we want nothing more than for you to be able to hold and love on Abram, but we are absolutely convinced, however, that this is what is best for him in the long run.  As we begin this new phase of our journey, please know that we appreciate you and how much we covet your support and encouragement.  Also, please don't forget to check our website ( for updates and pictures!  We have attached a short video and two articles about attachment and bonding if you want to learn more about this process and why it is necessary for adoptive children.

We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones around us; we couldn't ask for a better extended family & circle of friends for our precious Abram.  Thank you so much for your love and support over the past several years.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask at any time!

With MUCH love and gratitude,
Chris and Stephanie

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Abram's Nursery

It's finally finished... we just need to bring home Abram!  We hung up his curtains last night and those were the finishing touches.  I couldn't really find any little boy sets that I liked, so I decided to center the room around a fun rug that I found.  Here's what it looks like...

I absolutely love this print... we purchased it about a year ago and I couldn't wait to hang it in the nursery!

I just love his little table and chairs... so sweet!

I think I'll always be a kindergarten teacher... This is Abe's reading corner.. We used rain gutters for the shelves (thanks, Pinterest) and I copied the covers of a few of my favorite children's books.

The closets in our house are kind of small, so Chris uses Abe's closet. We made Abram his own closet from a book shelf. His socks, shorts and pj's are in the baskets. We bought the three elephant picture in Thailand (because we were going to be a family of three) and the moon statue my Grandpa Boyd gave me when I was little.  I love that it is in Abe's room now. 

His special animals... His cousin, Ella Grace, picked out the monkey just for him, he has to have a panda :),  both Cade and Ella had a brown bunny and Abe does, too, and his cute cleft lip bear. 

We bought these in Seoul and Hong Kong... I think they look great on the blue wall.

A sweet friend from Sasebo had this made for Abram. She said that Abram needed to have some "Japanese flair" in his room. I just love it!!

That's it... we just need Abram and the room will be complete!!