Monday, November 26, 2007


This is our last day in China before the long flight home tomorrow. Today, at approximately 4 pm, Mary officially becomes a U.S. citizen. The ceremony will occur at the U.S. Consulate office. This is very important ceremony when you consider how many people in the world want to be U.S. citizens. I remember when Grace became a U. S. citizen and it was a very moving event.

Our trip, although tiring, has been wonderful. Mary is doing so well and blossoms more each day. How fortunate we are to have her as part of our family. She is a blessing from God...and we truly believe that.

Early today (Tuesday) Grace and I went to a local playground with another family. It was nice to see Grace playing with local children and having so much fun. This was a good trip for Grace. She has not shown one hint of jealously towards her little sister. She has been loving, patient and kind with Mary in every way. We are glad Grace was with us.

We will be returning tomorrow as we start very early (around 5 am) with a flight from Guangzhou to Tokyo, then Tokyo to Detroit and finally on to Charleston where we arrive around 3:45 in the afternoon (on Wed as we are 13 hours ahead of the W.V time zone)

Thanks to all who have prayed for us, thought of us and sent messages. We appreciate it.

See you in the States.

Brandon, Mel, Grace and Mary (Ting-Ting)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Today is Monday and Ting Ting is napping in her crib. It's been one week since she joined our family. What an incredible week. This is the first time I(Mel) have been able to have the time to write. Mary- I'm calling her Ting Ting, is so adorable I can hardly stand it. She bonded immediatly with me and has been on my body in some fashion literally 24 hours a day. She's only 17 lbs. but let me tell you that my back feels it. But for the past 2 days she has been getting off of me and playing. She crawls and walks holding on to things and today was standing up alone a few times. Brandon has held her some today without her screaming so we are really making progress.
There is a great playroom here at the White Swan Hotel and that is where Ting has opened up. She laughs and is very responsive to Grace who is wonderful with her. She slept in her crib last night from 8 pm to 6:30 am and Grace slept from 7:00 until 4:30 am so I finally got some sleep and really feel so much better today. The White Swan is a beautiful hotel with many adoptive families. We're enjoying all the babies and parents from all over the world.

They have Christmas decorations up! It is really strange to see the Chinese waitreses in little red dresses trimmed with fur and Santa hats on. Capitalism is alive and thriving in China. We went to church yesterday that was packed. They read the Bible in Chinese abd then English. The singing was loud praise music with Chinese words up on the screen first and the English. It was awesome and very moving.
We've done some shopping here, of course, and talked to a beautiful young girl in one shop for a long time. Her Engish was very good and she told us in China they call the children the last part of there name 2 times. So Hai Ting would be called Ting Ting and that fits her to a T. She is petite and quiet but very alert and responsive. It's unbelievable that in one week she has reached deep into my soul and crawled right in. I think God created us with the ability to love whoever he gives to us without hesitation. We've been nice and easy with her and now she feels pretty comfortable with us. The orphanage information about her described her as quiet, timid, and active and that is how she is.
So it will take her a little while to warm up to everyone but she has the rest of her life to do that. Please excuse my rattling on. Sleep deprivaton has something to do with that! We're ready to come home but not looking forward to the long flight and time chnge again. It's been hard on Grace so I'm sure it will take her a while to get back on a normal schedule once we get home.
Best wishes to all.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

It is Saturday evening in Guangzhou. We arrived here last night at 8 pm. It was a short flight from Nanning, about one hour. Our last day in Nanning was uneventful. Grace was up and raring to go by 3 am. She is comfortable watching a movie on my laptop and then coloring or writing her letters while the rest of us sleep. But by 5 am, she wanted some company so the day began very early.
By the time we left for the airport at 4 pm, we were afraid that Grace, who played at full speed all day with her friend Kelly, was going to fall asleep making navigation of the airport difficult. But, she hung in there and made it onto the plane with lots of gusto. However, as soon as she got to her seat and buckled up, she immediately fell into a sound sleep and did not move for the entire flight. The take off and landing did not even phase her. I had to carry her off the plane, through the airport, onto the bus and upto our room before tossing her into a bed. She did move until this morning. She has traveled so well but her clock is still off. When she falls asleep, there is no stirring her.
Mary, on the other hand, was very playful and giggly for the flight. She seemed to like her first airplane ride. Each day, or perhaps I should say each hour, she blossoms and shows us more of her personality. Her paperwork from the orphange indicated that she was she and timid and did not like to be held by strangers. Those words seem accurate but she is very playful at times and has the cutest little laugh. She still wants only to be held by Mel. When I do hold her, she cries but not with the gusto she used to display. She has been holding out her hand to me when she walks....but only when her other hand is attached to Mels.
Mary is such a petite little thing. We think her Chinese name, Ting, fits her very well. We say, she is a tiny little Ting. She can walk if holding on to something or someone. She is definitely not shy when letting you know whether she likes something or not, be it food, drink or people.

Our hotel here in Guangzhou is beautiful. It is a popular spot for adoptive families so there are large number of Chinese kids roaming the hallways and restaurants. The hotel also has a large business class and there are lots of folks from all over the world staying here. We have had fun meeting folks from so many different parts of our world. All are interested to know why we have 2 Chinese daughters.
Mary had her required medical exam today. It is sort of a joke, but one step one must take before leaving the country. We are attending a church service near the hotel tomorrow and that should be interesting. The service is held in Chinese and English. Then, on Monday, we go to the U.S. Consulate's Office for a swearing in ceremony as Mary and the other adopted kids officially become U.S. citizens. That is a very special ceremony.

Other than what's mentioned above, the remainder of our time will be sightseeing and purchasing some clothing for Mary and Grace as it is extremely inexpensive. The shopkeepers love to bargain and it makes the shopping experience much more interesting.

I'm attaching some pictures from today. The view out our hotel window looks out over the Pearl River and is quite nice. It is only 8:30 pm her but everyone but me is fast asleep. We are getting some rest but never seem to feel rested.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for our wonderful family and friends, and a special thanks for finally having Mary as a part of our family. Our group is going to have a thanksgiving dinner tonight.

We had an intersting last few days. Our second night with Mary was not as smooth as the first. She slept on and off all night and wanted Mel to hold her or to lay on top of Mel. It was if she realized, oh my gosh, I'm actually going to be with these pepple. There is no doubting that Mary has bonded with Mel. As for Daddy, he can play with her and she laughs and respondes well, but picking her up is a whole different story--lots of screaming.

We traveled to a beautiful park outside of Nanning, the highest point in the province. The weather was perfect, low 70's and nice breezes. After that we returned to the hotel and Grace, Mel and Mary took a nap. I went out with another dad from the group to explore the city.
Riding in a taxi is very cheap but hard on your nerves. Traffic was coming at us from all sides and, our driver, who did not speak a word of English, drove like a wild man. The scaries part of the ride is the many near misses with folks on bicyles who act as though the cars are not present. It was actually kind of a fun ride. Taxi rides do not compare with the thrill of crossing the street. The streets are wide and the cars, motor scooters, bicycles, and other moving vehicles of various shapes and sizes are speeding at you and around you.
The stores here are just like what we in the U.S. are used to but with extremely loud music playing. Very few people speak any English so we were just wandering, taking in all around us. We did get stared at a lot and many people said, hello and laughed. I said hello back in Chinese, but it probably sounds as funny to them as their hello sounded to me. I did learn to count to 10 in Chinese which came in handy when I had to pay the taxi driver or purchase something.

As I have mentioned before, Grace's sleep clock is not on China time. Yesterday, she slept from 2 in the afternoon until about 1 am this morning. I knew she was awake when I felt someone tapping on my head saying, "daddy, let's go for a walk." I was comatose at that point and suggested that a movie or two might be fun. Grace agreed and watched two movies as the rest of were sleeping. I am glad that I brought my laptop as it plays DVDs. At around 3 am, Grace again suggested that we go out and explore in the hotel but I talked her into laying down with me and she slept until 7 this morning.

Today (Thanksgiving), rather than go with the rest of the group to a small village outside the city, we opted to stay at the hotel. Mary has a slight fever and runny nose. Plus, we were hoping to get Grace on a better sleep schedule. We walked a few blocks from the hotel and stopped in some stores.

Clothing here is so inexpensive. We purchased a few things for Mary and had fun trying to communicate with the store employees.

It is now around 5 pm and our plan to readjust Grace's sleeping clock has failed. She fell asleep at 2:30 this afternoon and she shows no signs of life at present. It could be a long night.

Have a nice Thanksgiving. We have so much for which to be thankful.

I've attached a few pictures from our walk today and the visit to the park yesterday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gotcha Day

SHE IS IN OUR ARMS!! There are no words to adequately describe the joy of having Mary HaiTing put in our arms today. She welcomed us with a loud cry that lasted quite a while. In fact, she screamed her brains out for about one half hour. She is such a little thing, but spunky, as she wiggled in our arms to get a last look at the orphanage worker who cared for her as we left the room where we received th children. What we witnessed today, 9 beautiful children being placed in families, was miraculous. We thank God that we could be a part of it.

When we left the hotel where we recieved the children, Mary was screaming as were many of the kids. On the bus ride home, she continued to scream. However, when we got to our room, she calmed down very quickly and began checking out her surroundings. She is very observant, curious and loves to watch big sister Grace act silly.

Grace has been wonderful. She tried to warm up with Mary as soon as we had her. After about 15 minutes of solid crying, Grace finally put her fingers in her ears and walked to another part of the room. Once we got back to the hotel room, Grace hugged and kissed Mary, act goofy which resulted in a few smiles, and helped in whatever way she could think of or was asked to do. We are proud of her.

Mary is a mama's girl. If Mel leaves the room, Mary lets out a scream until she sees her mommy's face again. She and Grace took a bath together and both of them had a ball.

It is now Tuesday afternoon. Mary slept all night and has had a very good day. She only wants her mother to carry her and she continues to cry if Mel leaves the room. She is doing so well with the huge adjustment and we are having a wonderful time with her. Our adoption was made official this morning so we are finished with our appointments with government officials and now we have some free time for the next few days in Nanning.

Attached are a few pictures from yesterday.

Thanks for keeping us with us. Parker, if you need to send a message, feel free to email me at

Sunday, November 18, 2007