Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Settling in at Home

First time at In N Out Burger...yum!

Snuggling with Baba
Playing with her birthday presents
Enjoying our neighbors swing
First time to Mickey's Yogurt

Reading Goodnight Moon

She is so well loved!
*I apologize that this post begins with pictures.  Every time I add a new one it won't let me add to the bottom of the post.  I am very technically challenged and that is one reason I only blog for a short time.

We've been home for a full two weeks today.  Ahh....it is so good to be home! I did enjoy China but being away from home helps you appreciate it all the more when you return.  Brooklyn did well on the plane ride home.  I had high expectations as Jack was an amazing traveler when he came home.  She fussed when we took off and landed as she had to wear a seatbelt.  She's never had to be restrained before in a vehicle.  China doesn't require seatbelts or carseats.  We arrived to LAX at 2:45pm.  It took a couple of hours to get through immigration.  We were on the road by 5:30 headed home.  She didn't like the seatbelt on the plane but she hated the carseat.  She cried until she fell asleep for most of the ride home.  We arrived home around 10:45.  Our neighbors had a sign welcoming Brooklyn as we drove in and some friends put a sign in the house.  We also were blessed with food in the fridge and snacks too.  Thank you friends who blessed us!

Overall Brooklyn is doing very well.  She is realizing she is home and not at another hotel.  She is opening up more and more.  She is still a little shy when someone new comes to visit but has improved a lot since the first visitors.  She is trying to talk more.  She now says:
GuGu(big brother)
She also has said baby, and sings songs-she loves music
She babbles too.  I'm not sure if it's just baby babble or Cantonese

Bedtime continues to be the hardest tradition.  However, she is showing signs of trusting us more and more.  She doesn't always cry when she goes to bed.  She likes to read "Goodnight Moon" our family favorite.  She is just a real sweet blessing to our family.  All of the kids really love helping her and loving on her.  I'll post some pictures below of what we've been up to over the last two weeks.
Unhappy in her first carseat ride

Exhausted from crying
Celebrating Aaron's bday
Enjoying the pool
Celebrated her 2nd Birthday with family
Sharing cake with Grace
Opening presents....she already loves clothes!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stuck in Hong Kong

We thought we were done posting....A typhoon hit near Shanghai on Saturday therefore canceling incoming and outgoing flights.  Shanghai was our layover before heading to the U.S.  Once we arrived to Hong Kong we saw our flight was cancelled.  We knew this was a good possibility as we knew about the typhoon.  Ultimately we were hoping if we had to be stuck somewhere we'd rather be stuck in Hong Kong rather than Shanghai.  We had trouble when we were stuck in Shanghai last time because  no one spoke english...but God did provide our friends to help navigate.  So it really is a praise that we are stuck here and not Shanghai.  Once we saw our flights were cancelled we went to the airline to see what our options were.  We could get a refund and rebook with another airline or wait in line with the hundreds of others who were trying to get another flight out through our airline.  We kept trying to get a hold of our travel agency but didn't for hours since it was in the middle of the night in the U.S. We had a local travel agent who has been helping us while we were in Hong Kong so were calling him for help too.  He said stay in line b/c our airline would get us home.....so Doug checked other airline counters to see if we could get a flight out but they were $1600-$2400 a ticket one way!! That was not an option for us.  We got in the line around 1:15.  We waited and waited.  Doug then went across the way to a connected hotel as we realized that we would be staying the night.  I also felt sick all day long so I really needed a hotel to lay down in.  So we got to the hotel around 6pm.  I laid in bed and the kids went back to the airport to get dinner.  Doug got back to the hotel after 1am.  He finally made it to the front of the line and started working on getting our flights out when the computers crashed!  So the airline sent everyone away and said come back at 6am.  Doug then went back and was first in line.  The airline was able to book us a direct flight with Cathay Pacific on a direct flight to LAX.  I have heard that Cathay Pacific is a premium airline so I am thankful to be flying with them.  This is the airline that cost $2400.....and now it will cost us nothing extra, praise God! The direct flight is also a blessing too.  The unfortunate part is we now can't leave until Monday at 4:30pm.  We will arrive to LAX at 2:55pm on Monday then drive straight home.

Please pray for me as I still feel ill and don't have much energy.  Out of necessity Hannah has stepped up as the main caretaker of Brooklyn.  So Brooklyn has quickly attached to Hannah.  In the state of how I feel this is great because I can't really take care of her.  But on the flip side it really confuses Brooklyn.  She has a hard time adjusting every time we get to a new hotel.  She was doing great by our last 2 nights at the hotel in Guangzhou but now has reverted to crying a lot during the night.  I know it must be very confusing for her.  Hannah left the room and Brooklyn started to cry and wouldn't receive comfort from me.  It doesn't bother me, I just know it's a step backward.  Please pray Brooklyn would have peace and continue to trust us during this crazy confusing time.  I just to acknowledge how awesome my daughter is!  She totally stepped up to take care of Brooklyn and the rest of the kids.  She never once complained about changing 3 poopy diapers yesterday or staying up rocking Brooklyn to get her to sleep....amongst countless other selfless ways she served me yesterday.  She rocks!  Aaron was also helpful when running errands between the hotel and airport.  I am thankful we had our kids to help.

Lord willing will be home Monday evening.  Please continue to lift us up in prayer.  He is trustworthy and has our travels in His control.  We can praise Him always!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Last post from China

Well, our 19 day, 16,000+ mile trip is coming to an end.  Thursday we had our U.S. consulate appointment to apply for Brooklyn's visa to enter the U.S. When we touch U.S. soil she will automatically become a citizen of the United States!  I am thankful that she will be receiving new citizenship. She will be leaving her birth country for a country where there is freedom.....to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Although we do acknowledge that the underground Christian church in China is thriving).  Brooklyn was once an orphan and now she is a chosen child.  Earthly adoption is just a veiled glimpse of the gospel. Doug and I decided to adopt this cute, sweet, cuddly little girl who needed a forever family.  Earthy adoption is an imperfect reflection of our adoption into God's family.  When God chose to adopt his children, we were not cute, sweet or anything to be desired.  Rather we were shaking our fist at God, opposed to Him and hating Him.  Yet He set His amazing grace upon His children, not while we were cute and cuddly, but while we were shaking our fists at Him.  He decided to forgive His children (me) of all their sins.  And he didn't stop at forgiveness of sin, but chose to bestow a full inheritance upon His children through adoption into his family. This truly is an amazing mercy received! No one deserves this kindness: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."  Galatians 4:4-7.  It is our greatest desire for Brooklyn, and all of our children, to know this adopting love of God through Jesus Christ.  He is the reason why we can step out in faith to bring children into our home....because we have been shown His overwhelming kindness and mercy.  We can only love others because we have first been loved.

Brooklyn continues to open up more and more with us each day.  She is such a sweet little thing!  We definitely are in love with her.  But keep praying for us as we balance training her and being sensitive to the trauma she has endured of being stripped away from her foster family.  I have been trying for a week to get a kiss from her....2 days ago she gave me my first one.  Tonight she took a bath without screaming...actually she screamed when I took her out.  Forward progress I would say.  We keep hearing more giggles out of her too.

Yesterday we explored a nearby museum.  The sight of the museum was originally planned to be a hotel before they discovered it was a burial place for an ancient king.  We were able to explore where the tomb was and some of the items found.  After the museum we walked around the block.  We discovered a neighborhood where the locals live and shop.  Doug has always wanted to see something like this so he was excited (but it made some of our kids pretty nervous).  One area we entered had any kind of meat you would like to buy.  Pork, chicken, beef, octopus, squid, eel, frog, and a few mystery meats.  It was quite the site.  No food safety standards in this market.  And if you were in need of a new bra you could buy one of those on your way out.

Today we visited the Safari Park like we did when we adopted Jack.  It was quite the adventure again.  The kids will not be satisfied with the Chaffee Zoo for some time.

Well we are packed up and boarding a train at 9am tomorrow.  We will then start our journey from Hong Kong to LA all day Saturday.  We will leave at 3pm July 11 and return at 6pm July 11 in LA.  The nice thing about traveling back is we get our day back.  We will then stay the night in LA and travel home on Sunday.  I am really looking forward to my own bed, drinks with ice, and something other than dumplings to eat.  I love the food here but I think I'm done with it for a little bit.  Please keep us in your prayers. Pray that we can keep Brooklyn entertained on the long flight home and that she will get some rest too.  I forgot to mention that after our consulate appt on Thursday we took her back to the medical clinic to see the doctor.  He prescribed her some antibiotics for bronchitis.  She had a cough since day one and it has continued to progress.  Hopefully the antibiotics will have begun to alleviate some of her discomfort.

I'll leave you will some pictures from the last couple of days:
Being silly at Shamian Island
Our new friends  

Brooklyn and her foster sister
One of our travel families
Local market
Bath time fun!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The last few days in Guangzhou

The last few days we have been settling in Guangzhou. Like everywhere else it has been hot and humid.  We did enjoy a bit of a cool down Monday and Tuesday and a downpour on Sunday.  We welcome the rain for some nice relief from the heat.  Sunday we toured a Folk Art Museum which was pretty uneventful.  We met up with one other family from our agency who has been in Guangzhou their whole trip. They brought along their 15 year old daughter who has been a welcome addition for our kids to hang out with.  After the museum we hit Shamian Island to do a little bit of shopping.  We went to Jenny's Place like we did when we visited 3 1/2 years ago.  We bought Brooklyn some squeaky shoes and cute Chinese outfits.

On Monday Brooklyn had her medical exam.  She hated it!  She screamed and cried until it was all over. Thankfully she is still under two and doesn't need blood work or a TB test.....that would have been a nightmare! As far as we know she checked out fine and we can continue to move forward.  As we were at the medical exam we ran into a gentleman who was adopting two boys, one 13 and the other 14.   Monday was the 14yr olds birthday.  Once you're 14 you have aged out and are not adoptable. He made it just in time! Praise God they both have a family now.  Apparently they were both very good at soccer.  They were both recruited from their orphanage to play for an international soccer school.  They must be very talented.  Our conversation was cut short as they had to move on.  Hopefully we will run into them again and hear more.  My heart was full when I saw those 2 boys placed with a forever family.

The rest of Monday and Tuesday were free days.  We took the kids swimming Monday afternoon and then went for a walk in the evening. Tuesday we ventured out by taxi to the other "adoption hotel" The Garden.  Near that hotel was many more shopping and eating establishments.  We went to a well known place called Tekila for some Mexican food.  It was yummy and a nice change of pace.  We are weary of Chinese food at this point.

Brooklyn is doing pretty well.  She definitely knows how to turn on the crying when she wants her way.  We will deal with that more when we get home.  Nap and bedtime continue to be the hardest.  She generally cries and cries until she falls asleep.  Usually I am her pillow and if I play it just right I can slide her off of me and lay her on the bed.  She comes from a foster family that had a family bed....hopefully we can wean her off of that too when we get home.  I don't sleep very well with her on me.  If she's not on me I almost always need to be touching her or she will fuss.  She enjoys all the kids for the most part.  If the littler ones get in her face too much she pushes them out.  She likes to flirt with Aaron.  She definitely will have him wrapped around her little finger....he is quite smitten by her.  Some have asked how we think Jack will do with a new little sister.  He has been doing great!  He is very sweet and patient with her even when she pushes him away.  He has also traveled very well for a 5 year old. I am glad he was able to experience this trip with us.
A new traditional Chinese outfit for Jack
Snuggles with Aaron

*Tuesday night Doug was able to put her to sleep for the first time in several days.  It was a nice break for me.  She slept well with little interruptions. She has some sort of upper respiratory issues that are causing a wet cough and a very runny nose.  We gave her meds last night that may have helped her sleep better too.

Brooklyn and her foster sister have not seemed to care about each other over the last week.  A couple of days ago Brooklyn approached her and held her hand.  This has now happened  a couple of times.  It is so sweet to see them interact.  Their family will be leaving Thursday after they receive their
daughter's visa.  So just one more day together.
Shamian Island
Shamian Island 3 1/2 years ago
This is often how we sleep or she's laying on top of me

Brooklyn with her foster sister

Clinging to Mama
Jack felt similar 3 1/2 years ago

Terrified as she's getting weighed

Sunday, July 5, 2015


While waiting for paperwork we spent Thursday and Friday exploring the beautiful city of Guilin. We saw tourists from all over the world visiting Guilin. Our first day we took a boat down the Li River.  The scenery was beautiful, and we could see why this area is featured by many artists, and there are also pictures of this area on the Chinese 20 RMB bill.  Brooklyn's Chinese name is En Hui Li.....we are guessing her last name has something to do with the Li River in Guangxi province.  We enjoyed our trip down the river.  It was raining too (summer is their rainy season) which gave us some relief from the heat.  The cruise ended in the city of Langshau where we were able to walk down the streets with many goods for sale that we could bargain for.  We had fun bargaining with the locals.  We then boarded our bus to head back to the hotel for a two hour ride. Here are some pics:

On Friday we visited a famous cave in Guilin.  Because Guilin is located in a mountainous area, it has many caves, here are some pics:

We also visited a scenic area called Elephant Hill, can you see why?

Lastly, is there nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby?  Forgive the oaf in the background.

Later that evening Aaron and I woke up at the exact same time with symptoms of food poisoning.  Although I am tempted to share details, I will just tell you, it was ugly.  Aaron and I were the only ones to eat a Big Mac at McDonalds that evening, that's all we can figure out (no Sam, it wasn't bean turd).  Who would have thought our "safe" meal at an American restaurant would get us. Thanks to those of you that prayed, as we were able to make our train to Guangzhou.  We were very weak, but the rest of the fam stepped up big time.  Jack, Grace, and Casey are nursing tender stomachs, so we would appreciate prayers that we can stay healthy.  We will be here until we leave on Saturday.  We have an appt. at the US Consulate this week, as well as a required medical exam for Brooklyn.  After the Consulate Appt. we wait to receive Brooklyn's travel visa on Friday.

Unfortunately it is more humid here in Guangzhou than it was in Guilin.  Overall Brooklyn is doing great.  We see more and more smiles and giggles. We also see more of her exerting her will (of course).  Brooklyn is a snuggler, which we love.  Also, she isn't too fond of hotel rooms and let's us know about it.  We are anxious to get her home to "normal".  Brooklyn's trusts us more daily, which is an answer to so many prayers.

Favorite shirt of the day:
"Light Flash With Clay"
"The Growing Seriously Harm You and Ithers Around You"

Much Love from the LaCroixs

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Nanning and Guilin

Tuesday we spent our last day in the capital city of the Guangxi Province, Nanning.  Our guide David took us to dinner in the mall connected to our hotel for some traditional Catonese cuisine.  Afterwards he suggested we go outside and play in the water fountains.  We didn't really want to let the kids get wet as we were packing up to leave the next morning and clothes wouldn't dry out.  However we realized we really hadn't explored the outside at all because it is so hot and humid.  So we ventured out of the mall and went straight for the water fountain.  It was the best water fountain for kids to play in that I have ever seen. Music played in the back ground and lights lit up around the fountains to coincide with the music.  It was very cool.  We stood and watched for a little bit.  We decided we had to let the kids play as they would never have an opportunity like this again.  Clothes and all Grace and Jack hit the water and were soaked head to toe. It didn't take Casey too long to decide he would join the fun.  I had Brooklyn in the baby carrier and she enjoyed from a distance. We did not think she would like the water as she freaked out at the bath and was nervous just being near the pool watching the rest of the kids swim.  But we decided to let her down and see what she would do.  She loved it!

Wednesday morning we packed up and left for Guilin via high speed train.  It was a 2.5 hour ride and Brooklyn was a champ.  She ate some snacks and took a nap for about an hour. We played a little bit and then we were in Guilin.  Doug noticed the temperature kept rising higher as we neared our destination.  Have we mentioned it is HOT here!?  We sweat everyday as soon as we go out....it's pretty miserable.  However, I would rather sweat than be in the bad air quality of Beijing or Zhengzhou like we did when we adopted Jack.  We arrived and checked into out hotel and then went out for lunch.  Behind our hotel is a a fun little market to bargain and shop around.  We didn't do any shopping after lunch.  We wanted to get back and go swimming.  We decided to get Brooklyn in her swimsuit too.  As we slowly introduced her to the water she warmed up very quickly.  By the end of our time she was sticking her face in the water trying to drink it.

We came back to the room and got ready to hit the market and eat dinner.  After eating our KFC we walked back to the hotel.  We were all so hot and sticky!  I decided Brooklyn needed a bath.  I started it up and she freaked out.  I gave her a bath the best I could with her screaming.  This is the first time she really has cried so hard and long.  I bathed her as quick as possible  which wasn't fast enough.  After I got her out and changed she was still hysterical and I couldn't calm her down.  She was probably very tired and possibly grieving too.  She hasn't been very emotional the last couple of days.  I know it is so hard on her being taken from her foster family.  Finally right after I started singing Jesus Loves Me in her ear she calmed down.  There is just something sweet about Jesus name.  She feel asleep and is now sound asleep.

Here are a few pics from last night:

Favorite T-shirts of the day: "Mohawks Asfathy" & "Light Flash With Clay"

Monday, June 29, 2015

Brooklyn is an official LaCroix!

*this post is from Monday and Tuesday as I have had a hard time connecting to the internet with the vpn......China doesn't allow social media sites and blocks them.  Therefore we need a vpn to make a tunnel to by pass....but obviously it doesn't always work.

We have our beautiful baby girl! We met Brooklyn around 3:30 this afternoon. She was in a room with her foster sister and nanny. Our guide held her from the door entry so we could get a peak of her before officially meeting her. He actually invited Jack in the room but no one else. We're not sure if it's because Jack is Chinese or little. I think it has to do with his nationality.

Brooklyn is the sweetest girl! She is very quiet and reserved. She has preferred both Doug and I and likes the kids from a distance.  She is now warming up to them today.  We have been told that she was very close with her Baba(foster father). After we returned to the hotel she cried for Baba several times. It was so sad and I tried to comfort her the best I could with a language barrier. Several of the kids started to cry when they saw her crying for him. It was pretty heartbreaking. Now it's been several hours since she had asked for him. Our prayer was that she would receive comfort and love from us and God has been so kind in giving that to her.

Brooklyn is a very tall girl! The measurements were right unlike what I thought.  She barely fits in her 18month clothing.  She also has very large feet with some long toes.

She is doing well so far.  Today she is showing a little more of her will.  She was said to be a "coddled girl" which I am seeing may be pretty accurate.

We went back to the civil affairs office today and made it official.  Brooklyn is officially a LaCroix!

Tomorrow we pack up and go to the city of Guilin.  We will board a train for a few hours. Guilin is a tourist spot we will get to enjoy for the next several days as our paperwork is completed.  We are looking forward to this part of our trip as we have read great things about Guilin.

The first time I got to hold Brooklyn

Our official adoption photo
The first family picture  

Such a sweet face!
Here are a few more pictures from Tuesday:
Being friendly with the Assistant Director of the Orphanage and head nanny

Brooklyn and her foster sister

In the playroom at the Civil Affairs office

Warming up to Aaron