Sunday, September 30, 2007

We're Home

We realize we haven't written for almost a week and we apologize. Internet access was expensive in Guangzhou and we were exhausted, but now we are home and looking forward to updating you on our last few days in China.

This is a picture of our adoption group in Guangzhou, just two days before we left. It was a truly wonderful group to travel with.

After being personally sworn in at the U.S. Consulate on Friday by our friend, Mark Carlson, who works there, we drove to the airport for the first of our return flights home. Of course our flight was delayed by two hours, so we ended arriving into Beijing at 1 am. The group didn't arrive to the hotel until 2 am and I had the unfortunate luck to leave my diaper bag on the plane. I spent the hours of 1-2:30 am hanging out with a Chinese guard. She and I actually had a nice conversation, but I was pretty spent. Arrived to the hotel by 3:15 and then had to wake up at 6:30 am to leave for our flight to the U.S.

But....we made it home and our girls (I love saying "girls" - just seems so natural to say we have two daughters) were amazing on the flight. Lian slept 7 hours on our 11 hour flight from Beijing to San Francisco and Anna slept during her normal nap times and was happy as could be during the rest of the flight. Dano and I didn't sleep, but at least the girls were somewhat rested.

We were greeted in Seattle by several friends and family, who were such a joyous sight to see. We have been overwhelmed in the past 24 hours by the love of our friends. Susan Selby and Melinda Teeny thoroughly cleaned our home, stocked our fridge, and left us an amazing dinner for our first night home. Melinda also arranged meals by women in our church to feed us for the next two weeks. Julie Gray left us a beautiful basket with letters for Lian and Anna from her children. And then the entire leadership team at our church, who were at a retreat together, left a voicemail for our family welcoming us back. When I received the voicemail, I just started crying in thanksgiving for how supported we feel. Today we attended church and were so warmly welcomed. Our girls are surrounded by so many people who have prayed for them since before they were born, who have shown their love in practical ways, and who honor them with their Godly examples.

Now its readjustment time....its midnight and Lian, Dano and I still can't fall asleep. At least Anna is sleeping peacefully. ...whoops - I spoke too soon. She's crying. Better go. I promise I'll have more pictures up soon.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Becoming Sisters

We spend a lot of time in our hotel room waiting for the government to finish processing Anna Mei's passport, but it has been a good time for bonding. We've also realized how important it is for Lian to have one on one time with each of us, especially with Mommy. However, Daddy is the better game player...and to his credit, he is okay with me publishing the fact that his four year old beat him in chess yesterday. He didn't even see it coming until Lian said, "Checkmate!" Yes, a four year old beat a 36 year old....just a little humbling, but doesn't the winner look so pleased with herself?

Lian is very perceptive and insightful. Today Anna Mei was having a really hard time with her second nap. She just kept crying. Lian looked up at me and said, "She is confused, Mommy."

Me - "About what?"
Lian - "Her parents."
Me - "What should I do?"
Lian - "You should pick her up."

I started singing and then Lian said, again, very gently, "You should sing, "Don't be afraid" to her. So I did and Anna Mei fell asleep. Dano and I both went in and hugged Lian and thanked her for understanding her sister so well and for helping us.

I thought I would type out the words to this simple song so that you can understand the power behind them:

Don't be afraid
My Love is stronger
My love is stronger than your fears
Don't be afraid
My love is stronger
And I have promised
Promised to be always near

We had our first family swim in the lovely green pool of the hotel. Anna Mei just loved it. She didn't cry once. And Lian loved jumping off the wall so that she could "teach" Anna Mei. Anna even put her face in the water and tried to copy how Dano blew bubbles. It was too cute.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Lian's Orphanage in Gaoyou

Its been a few days since we were in Gaoyou, but I thought I would reflect for a moment on our time at Lian's orphanage.

This is a picture of one of the Ai Yi's who was there when Lian was a baby. Her name is Wang Ping and Lian took an immediate liking to her. How do you thank someone adequately for taking care of your child for the first year of her life? And then you realize there are so many more children who will never be adopted. Less than a tenth of a percent of all the orphans worldwide are adopted.

I asked to hold one of the babies. Lian asked if she was her little sister. It was very difficult for me to say, "No, she is still waiting for her mommy and daddy." Today, in Nanchang, Lian was collecting leaves off of a bush. I asked her what they were for and she said, "These are for all the little girls and boys who don't have mommies and daddies." Somehow she knows in her heart that we cannot forget about them.

I've spent time in orphanages in Russia before, but to visit where my daughter was placed by her birth mother, played, slept , and waited for us was pretty emotional for me. While we continue to struggle with infertility, Dano and I left our visit even more thankful for the way in which our family has been formed. Adoption is truly a miracle of the heart.

Several of the women in our group treated ourselves to a $6/hour massage today. This was the first time we had all left our babies with the dads. One of the new moms said she couldn't believe how hard it was to leave this baby she had only had for three days. Her eyes welled up with tears as she said, "I just didn't realize how quickly I would attach to her." It truly is a miracle and a gift.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007











This is my fifth attempt at blogging. I've lost the other four due to internet failure. Or so it seems I have. We can't view any blogs over here in China, so if you now have five of the same posts from me, I apologize.








So while I wrote a lot of nice things last time, I'm afraid I am too tired and will just need to summarize.Today was our official adoption day. Anna Mei is now a Jukanovich and we couldn't be more ecstatic. Uncle Jon has been so amazing and is loved so much by his two nieces.Jon has been our official videographer and seems to be better at posting pictures than I, so you can also check out his blog at http://www.jonathanwolff.blogspot.com.auntie/Auntie






Suzy is spoiling us with being at our beck and call. If you want to follow her blog it is http://www.suzannebaker.blogspot.com/.




The moment we officially welcomed Anna into our family. Lian was being a little silly.We were able to Skype my mom and dad so they could meet Anna Mei in person. The coolest thing is that Anna waved to them all on our her own accord. She hadn't done that for anyone else, so it was very special.

Happy Adoption Day

This is my fourth attempt at blogging. I've lost the other three due to internet failure. So while I wrote a lot of nice things last time, I'm afraid I am too tired and will just need to summarize.

Today was our official adoption day. Anna Mei is now a Jukanovich and we couldn't be more ecstatic.

Uncle Jon has been so amazing and is loved so much by his two nieces.
Jon has been our official videographer and seems to be better at posting pictures than I, so you can also check out his blog at www.jonathanwolff.blogspot.com.






Auntie Suzy is spoiling us with being at our beck and call. If you want to follow her blog it is www.suzannebaker.blogspot.com.

The moment we officially welcomed Anna into our family. Lian was being a little silly.









We were able to Skype my mom and dad so they could meet Anna Mei in person. The coolest thing is that Anna waved to them all on our her own accord. She hadn't done that for anyone else, so it was very special.
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Happy Adoption Day

Today was our official adoption day. We had to meet with several government officials and swear before them that we would never harm or abandon Anna Mei. We also had to declare our intentions to raise her. Anna Mei was so patient the entire day.

Uncle Jon has been amazing with both of our girls. He's also our official videographer, which has been such a gift. His shoulders have also gotten a workout giving Lian numerous shoulder rides. I can't believe we get to share this experience together.
Auntie Suzy has spoiled us. She thinks of everything we need before we even have time to think. And Lian has made her play several rounds of Memory, Old Maid, Crazy Eights, and Go Fish. Suzanne's patience is such a blessing.






Anna Mei is officially a Jukanovich!!!! She has the sweetest personality. And she loves watching her big sister. It is so fun to watch. Lian definitely needed some one on one time with mommy today, which was really good. She's done so well, but it's hitting her that she is not the baby of the family anymore.
We were able to call my mom and dad through Skype and Suzanne's webcam. Anna Mei was able to meet her Nanna and Poppa and the sweetest thing is that Anna waved to my mom without any prompting. She hasn't done that before, so it was very special for my mom.

We're all a little tired, but it feels so natural to have our two beautiful girls.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy Adoption Day

Happy Birthday, Anna Mei!!! At 4 pm this afternoon, we welcomed Anna Mei Jukanovich into our lives and hearts. We feel so blessed and truly overcome with joy. It has been such a whirlwind of a day and we are quite exhausted, but we just settled the girls down to sleep. (For more pictures, click on the picture tab on the left side of our blog. It will take you to our picasa photo gallery.)

Lian is absolutely in love with her sister. She's been such an awesome helper this entire afternoon and evening - wanting to cut up bananas for her, brush her hair, bathe with her - its just been so incredible to see the two of them together. And Dano and I cannot believe we have two children!!!

We've been told that the orphanage had the foster moms bring the children back to the orphanage this past month so that they could transition to our care. Its hard to imagine what must be going on in all of the little girls' minds and hearts. Several times, Anna Mei would just start saying, "Momma" and look towards the door. It was heartbreaking to just think of what she is going through. But on the other hand, she just seems so at home. She has a beautiful smile, she is making lots of sounds and coos, she loves to watch everything that is happening around her, she loves listening to the sound of water, and she has really strong legs and can sit up with much more strength than Lian did. The difference between foster care and institutional care is evident.

Jonathan and Suzanne were such a gift today. So amazing to share this experience with my brother and my best friend. Truly amazing. They're definitely going to need a vacation after this, though :)

OK - need to get some sleep.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

We Meet our Daughter in 5 hours!!!

We landed in Nanchang this morning to discover that instead of meeting our baby girl tomorrow, we will meet her today at 4 pm!!! Needless to say we were shocked. I just started crying because it has been my prayer that I would meet my daughter by or before her first birthday. This happened with Lian and since today is our little girl's first birthday (september 18), it will happen with her as well. Can't believe it.

Its more difficult than I thought to blog here because you're not allowed to actually view your blog and the internet connection is slow. So I hope to have some photos up this afternoon from our time in Gaoyou.

We had such a wonderful time in our 36 hours in Gaoyou. I still cannot believe the miracle of Lian's teacher's friends hosting us. They treated us so well. Their van was very spacious. They even treated us to an authentic Gaoyou meal. We anticipated treating them to dinner, but they would have nothing of it. Such hospitality.

Our time at the orphanage was truly special, but way too short. We were met by the Vice-Mayor of Gaoyou, Ni Wencai, along with the orphanage director and two of the office workers. We asked if any of the Ai Yis (Nannies) from Lian's time were still there - one was. Her name was Wang Ping and it was so sweet to see her with Lian. The truly amazing thing is that they told us we could not use a video camera, but our host, Sun, is a professional videographer. He took our camera and just said, "Let me." And they never stopped him. So we have video footage of our entire visit - Lian's bedroom, the playroom, our time with the orphans, in their school room. Such a gift.

There are only 50 children in the orphanage now. There used to be 250. We were able to see some of the infants, but we saw more of the older children. Many had special needs. It is amazing to see the work Half the Sky Foundation has done there. At the end of the day, I asked Lian how she felt being at the orphanage. She said she was happy to see the Ai Yi, but nervous to go into the playroom. The playroom is where she spent a lot of time. My brother was great though and got her playing with stuff and she didn't want to leave.

We were then treated to a formal lunch with everyone and then the Vice-Mayor took us on a personal tour of several historic sites of Gaoyou. There's a lot more to write on this, but due to the fact that we need to get unpacked, shower, etc. before we meet our little girl, I will keep this short.

Will write more soon and will hopefully get more pictures up for everyone.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We Arrived to Shanghai!

Dano and I decided we have the world's best little traveler. Sure, she's four and she has her moments, but Lian did an outstanding job during this 18 hour travel day. We are so proud of her and she is so excited to be in China. Quotes from Lian today:

"China is so big that I can't even hold it in my arms."
"It smells here."
"Daddy no longer speaks English. He only speaks Chinese now. Me too. I learn hundreds of words at my school. I will teach you, Mommy." - she then proceeded to interweave actual Chinese words with what we are defining as Lianese

We made it to our hotel. No pictures to display yet. We're still waiting for Jonathan and Suzanne to arrive (by the way, they traveled to Beijing because we have already been there twice and did not want to visit again, but it seemed sad that they would make it all the way to China and not have a picture of the Great Wall).

We leave on the train for Nanjing at 9:15 tomorrow morning. Wish us well!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We're Off in Two Days!!!

Jonathan and Suzanne left for Beijing this morning. We leave Friday morning, so there's a little bit of excitement in the air. Needless to say Lian is more than excited. Below is our finalized itinerary. We will have one adventurous portion of our trip in that we've decided to travel from Shanghai to Gaoyou without a guide. The cost was extremely expensive and Dano is convinced he can get us on the train from Shanghai to Nanjing and then get us a taxi from Nanjing to Gaoyou. Dano hasn't really spoken Chinese in three years, so we are hoping it will all come back to him :) (I think he's pretty excited about the challenge actually).

One unexpected thing is that we have to go to the Civil Affairs Bureau (CAB) in Nanjing to pay our fee to visit Lian's orphanage. This CAB is where we received Lian three and a half years ago, so I can already feel the tears welling up when I think about going back there. We will only be in Gaoyou for 36 hours before needing to return to Nanjing to catch our flight.

I probably won't write more until we get to China.

Itinerary
Sep 12: WEDNESDAY
UA821 SEASFO 720AM 928AM
UA889 SFOPEK 1107AM 225PM

Sep 13: THURSDAY
Beijing – Arrive Beijing at 2:25pm. Will be met by local guide and
stay at New World Courtyard Hotel.

Sep 14: FRIDAY
Beijing - Tour of the Great Wall. (Breakfast and Lunch included)

Sep 14: FRIDAY
UA729 SEASFO 930AM 1141AM
UA857 SFOPVG 150PM 525PM

Sep 15: SATURDAY
Beijing - Tour of TianAnMen Square, Forbidden City,
Summer Palace. (Breakfast and Lunch included)
Flight MU5156 (5:50 – 7:55pm) to Shanghai.
Shanghai – Jukanovich family will arrive at Pudong airport at 5:25. Check in
Zhongya hotel.
Mr. Wolff and Ms. Baker will arrive Hongqiao airport at 7:55pm.
Will be met by local guide at the airport and check in Zhongya hotel.

Sep 16: SUNDAY
Shanghai – Train D412 (9:15 – 11:38am) to Nanjing.
Drive to Gaoyou.

Sep 17: MONDAY
Gaoyou – Visit Goayou orphanage, lunch with the orphanage staffs.
Drive back to Nanjing. .
Nanjing – Stay at Mandarin Garden Hotel.
Sep 18: TUESDAY
Nanjing – Flight MU2755 (8:20 – 9:25am) to Nanchang.
Nanchang – Arrive Nanchang at 9:25am will be met by local guide
at the airport. Stay at the Gloria Hotel.

Sep 19: WEDNESDAY
Nanchang – Receive your daughter at the CAB office. Interview
with CAB have adoption registration done.
Interview with Justice Dept. Apply for baby’s passport.
Sep 20: THURSDAY
Nanchang – Adjustment time and shop for the need.

Sep 21: FRIDAY
Nanchang – Visit the suburban of Nanchang City.

Sep 22: SATURDAY
Nanchang – City tour.

Sep 23: SUNDAY
Nanchang – Rest and free time.

Sep 24: MONDAY
Nanchang – Pick up the Notary documents.

Sep 25: TUESDAY
Nanchang – Pick up your daughter’s passport.
Flight MU2149 (1:40 – 3:10pm) to Guangzhou.
Guangzhou – Be met by local guide at the airport. Check-in
White Swan Hotel.

Sep 26: WEDNESDAY
Guangzhou – Child’s medical check up, picture taken and fill out the forms.

Sep 27: THURSDAY
Guangzhou – Interview with U. S. Consulate at 11:00am.

Sep 28: FRIDAY
Guangzhou – Pick up baby’s visa. Flight CA1302 (7:55 – 10:55pm)
to Beijing. Stay at the New World Courtyard Hotel.

Sep 29: SATURDAY
UA888 PEKSFO 1200N 844AM
UA322 SFOSEA 1040AM 1245PM

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Run for One a Success!

I did it! It has been 22 years since my last half-marathon (I'm dating myself) and ten years since I ran without problems in my knees. After four months of training and fundraising, I was so psyched to cross the finish line of the Virginia Beach Rock 'n Roll Half-Marathon in 2:17:38. This was the first time Children's Hope Chest hosted a Run for One training team (www.runforone.org/jennifer). There were 25 runners and we raised $80k and the gifts aren't all in yet.

I ran on behalf of Yuri, a 16 year old boy I met on a trip to visit Children's Hope Chest's work in Russia in 2003. At mile 7, 9, and 11, I hit some mental walls, but I just kept thinking - this is nothing to what Yuri has gone through in his life. So I would lift him up in prayer. And then the mental walls would disappear. It was an awesome experience to cross that finish line. Every time I am with the team from Hope Chest, I leave more encouraged and motivated to make sure they succeed as an organization. I was able to meet with so many people from around the country who love these orphaned children (who will never be adopted) succeed as adults in their own country and I was continually humbled. Less than a tenth of a percent of the 143 million orphans in the world will be adopted. We have to find ways to provide the blessing of family for the other 99.9%.

Hope Chest's president, Tom Davis, just wrote a book that is receiving a lot of press - Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds. (http://www.cthomasdavis.com/). We can't all run half-marathons or travel half-way across the world to reach out to an orphan, but Tom has written very practically about the day to day things we can do. I encourage you to check out his campaign for the Five things we can all do - http://www.fivefor50.com/.
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