Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jinan Reunion!

This weekend we were able to spend time with the families that went to Jinan China with us. It's amazing that all the families that went to Jinan are from the Midwest. We feel so blessed to be able to continue to spend time with the families that have and continue to be on journeys very similar to ours. We spent the afternoon in Chinatown and then back to our house for pizza and hanging out! We are already planning our next get together- can't wait too long!

Our whole group- so glad everyone could make it!

Melina and family

 Sophie & Sam & family

Anna & family

Aidan's new BFF, Collin! The two of them are peas in a pod :)

 The kids!

The girls- Anna & Jennifer, me & Maeve, Laura & Melina

Fall 2013


Maeve's BFF from China came for a visit :)

This afternoon we enjoyed the beautiful Fall weather at the park.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

One Month

We've been home with Maeve for a litltle over one month now. In many ways the past month has flown by! Since we've been home we moved to a new house, the kids have started school and all their activities, and John is back to work catching up on all that he missed in the three weeks while we were gone. Sometimes we feel like we are moving so fast that we just need a moment to come up for air. With all the activity that four children bring, life seems to moving at a fast clip.

Having a new little person in the house has brought about some pretty significant changes. I had no idea how self sufficient  my kids really were until we took a leap back into the toddler years! Wow, how quickly one forgets :) I had forgotten how attractive toilet bowls are, how inviting staircases are, the joy of throwing one's cup repeatedly to the floor, the teething and constant drool, and the need to be walked around (Maeve is almost walking and loves to hold our hands and be walked around the house!).

I'd also forgotten how little ones, especially those who are hurting because life has taken a sudden drastic change, want to be held all the time. Maeve is grieving all these changes. She cries to be held, she cries to be put down- sometimes I don't think she even knows what she wants.

There are moments of pure joy too. Maeve loves to take baths, play peek-a-boo, look at books, and eat every single thing that is put in front of her. It has been so good to see  the kids delight in Maeve and welcome her into our home. I jokingly tell people that I wish the kids could just skip school so they could be home and play with her. She adores their jokes, games, and silliness. I think kids just love being around other kids. I must add that Ella is the absolute best big sister in the entire world! Maeve is one lucky little girl to have a big sister as wonderful as Ella. And, Maeve's first word is "Ella!" It sounds more like "Lella," but she definitely knows her big sister!

I've also been reminded of how fragile and innocent Maeve's little heart is and what a huge calling it is to be the ones chosen to care for, love, and guide her. This realization is also what has made some of our transition so difficult. It's hard to know how to cuddle, soothe, reassure, and sometimes, deeply love a child that you really don't know. There is no question that we adore her and would do anything to protect her, but it's that gut love that grows over time- that's what is missing and what makes it so hard. We are working hard as a family to nuture this love for Maeve.  It will take time, but we are moving in the right direction. As we muddle through the messy stuff, I know that we are being held together by a God who loves us and is protecting our family.

We truly covet your prayers. Please pray for patience for me as I am with Maeve the most. Sometimes I just can't figure out what to do to make her happy. I need a daily dose of calmness, flexibility, tenderness, and love. Please pray for John as he is juggling a lot at work, plus the demands of being a dad. And please pray for the kids as they are giving more of themselves to make space in our lives for a little girl who is very needy and so deserving of a family.

We are thankful for God's faithfulness and goodness to our family. We are still humbled at how He brought this precious little girl into our lives. Thank you for your prayers and support as we are growing closer as a family and getting to know Maeve more intimately each day.

The latest pics of the little lady :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Coming Home

We ARE coming home! It was a bit stressful as we waited to receive Maeve's passport in time for the consulate appointment this morning. Our guide, Shiyan, was able to go to the airport late last night and pick up the passports. What a relief. The consulate appointment went well and was pretty quick. We were back at the hotel by 10:30.
Some of the people from our group had their consulate appointments yesterday, so they began their homeward journey today. Tomorrow we will leave around 4:30 and take a 3 hour bus ride to Hong Kong. We leave the following afternoon and 15 hours later we will be home!
Today we wanted to take some pictures of the girls in their Chinese dresses. Maeve can barely squeeze herself into her dress :) I tried to get a good picture of all three girls together, but it wasn't to be!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fabric Market

John and I, along with Maeve, took a taxi to the fabric market today. Tristan spent a quiet afternoon in the hotel room! We handed our taxi driver a piece of paper that gave him the address of where we wanted to go. It felt a little strange to be completely unable to communicate and simply trust the driver to take us to the place written on the paper. I think it's good to be in these situations once in a while. It was also a bit strange to have Maeve sitting next to us in the taxi without a car seat. I've heard that we should prepare for the carseat battle when we get home- can't wait.
The taxi dropped us off at a street where all the shops sold drapery. We found a lovely young woman who directed us to the fabric market that we were looking for, just around the corner. I think we were quite a spectacle as we walked through the market, as this probably wasn't a typical tourist attraction. The market was a large building with 4 floors, packed with small stalls, all selling fabric. We saw so many facrics that it became quite overwhelming. John did some bartering and was quite proud of himself in the end. I think we got some good bargains!

Taxi ride!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Disappointment with the Public Security Office in Jinan

Our adoption journey has gone very well so far.  We arrived in Beijing, and found the airport, hotel, and other citizens to be helpful and kind as we explored the city.   The staff at the train was able to make sure that we found the correct car and seat.   Most of the individuals and agencies we interacted with in Jinan were also helpful.  The Civil Affairs staff made our paperwork process fast and tolerated the noise from our children.  We were even able to meet a important Official just below the Governor.  Unfortunately, we have not been as pleased with the Public Security Office.  We are only in China for two weeks, and need the passports for our children to be done quickly.  The Public Security Office has been slow in doing this and has not been helpful.   When we have talked with families who adopted children from other provinces, they had no problems in getting their children's passports done.   This has made us wonder why the Jinan, Shandong Public Security Office has been so unhelpful and so slow.    We are now in Guangzhou waiting with two other families (Preston & Jennifer and Kurt & Janet) to visit the embassy to acquire our child's Visa.  Everyone in Guangzhou has been helpful and kind.  Unfortunately the delay from the Public Security Office may make us miss our Visa appointment.  

Please pray that the Public Security Office will finish our paperwork so that we can make our Consulate appointment and leave as scheduled.   When you travel to Jinan for your adoption, make sure you are prepared for a slow and inefficient Public Security Office.   

John and Anne Contant

China Top Twelve

These are all in random order, except for number 1!

12. Meeting some local people! This Grandma was so excited 
to bring her 7 month old grandson over to meet us and Maeve!


11.  Seeing lots of cute hinders everywhere!

10. The rickshaw ride where we almost lost our lives a few times!
 Our driver was weaving through traffic at quite a clip!

9.  Bean Bread PB&J Sandwiches

8. This. Everywhere.

7. Squatty Potties
(very hard to do without peeing on yourself)

6. Laundry in the tub!

Rinse Cycle.

5. Climbing the Great Wall of China!

 4. Meeting the Cosgrove Family. Their daughter, Anna, is a month older than Maeve 
and also from Jinan. Getting to know them has been a highlight of this trip for us.

Preston, Jennifer, and Anna
(sorry, couldn't resist 
the pic on the left)
Jennifer and I on the bullet train from Beijing to Jinan!

3. Spending special time with Tristan
We have watched Tristan as he has embraced a new little sister into our family.  
He is a wonderful big brother- patient, kind, and putting others' needs first. 
We are so thankful that he could be a part of this trip.

This picture was taken a few moments after we 
met Maeve for the first time- I think she likes him!

Part of the fam!

2. Visiting the Orphanage and meeting Maeve's nannies.

1. Meeting Maeve!!!
After years of dreaming of this moment, it has finally arrived.
She is more wonderful than we could have imagined and we
are in love! We are thankful that God has been faithful to 
our familyand given us the desire of our hearts.