Thursday, April 11, 2013


Dearest Friends,

For almost a year now I have slept with my IPhone shining brightly beside me.  The screen prominently displayed my beautiful daughter, half a world away.  It reminded me to think of her; it reminded me to pray for her; it reminded me of the gift God has generously given us.

Tonight, for the first time since we found our daughter, I will sleep with my phone off.  I no longer need it.  She now sleeps in the next bed beside us!  Today, in China, in the province of Anhui, in the city of Hefei, we were finally united.

A shy little girl came meekly around the corner and leaned against the wall, unsure of what to do with herself.  Her parents timidly approached and gave her a hug.  She smiled and looked down at the floor, back up and down again.  She was gorgeous, afraid, thin as could be and she was ours!

We visited for about 45 minutes and filled out paperwork.  We gave her some gifts - primarily a heart shaped necklace which symbolized our promise to always love her.  The translator/guide explained this to her and she seemed very pleased.

Shortly thereafter we discovered that she got up at 5am to make the two hour drive to Hefei.  The care givers at the orphanage had decided not to feed her because they thought she would get car sick.  Where would you like to go to eat Caitlin?  "KFC".  And off we went!

After KFC it was off to Walmart to see our first grocery store.  She loved pushing the cart and was immediately drawn to the "Barbie Section".  Yes, she is now the proud owner of her first Barbie doll.  Then she chose some candy for her friends at the orphanage.  Tomorrow we will be making the long trek back to her home city of Huainan to see the orphanage.  Given that Anhui is the poorest province in China and the orphanage in Huainan is the poorest orphanage in Anhui, we could use your prayers tomorrow.

Caitlin's triumphant return will be to the sound of many gift bags, candy for the children and a giant cake for all.  We will be having a farewell party and staying for a couple hours before returning to Hefei.

This day has been filled with an unbelievable level of emotions for us all.  The joy of first seeing our daughter!  The sorrow as she cried multiple times throughout the day, missing her caregivers at the orphanage who raised her for 12 years.  The laughter and wonder as she experienced new things. (This was her first time "ever" outside her hometown)

Caitlin has now called her nanny back at the orphanage about 8 times today.  4 of those times were because she was so sad (crying), she didn't know what to do.  4 others were because she was so excited she could hardly contain herself.  (Should be an interesting hotel phone bill!)

Caitlin and daddy went swimming in the hotel pool today only to discover it was freezing. Correction - Caitlin and daddy went swimming in the hotel hot tub today and had a great time.  I am certain she will make a great swimmer!

There was one other family here today receiving there child.  A couple from Florida who also brought their biological children (8/girl - 4/boy). They were a Godsend!  Our doorbell rang this evening and the mother of the family (whom we met again at diner) wanted us to come to the their room.  She'd heard we were having some trouble and wanted us to see her friends who had adopted from the same orphanage that our daughter came from. (BTW they adopted a 2 year old girl today). Caitlin reluctantly followed and the second we entered their room our daughter smiled.  There must have been about 7 or 8 girls from "her orphanage" displayed on the screen.  They all had families and they were all happy.  Instead of just her friends that disappeared, never to be heard from again; they were alive and well and smiling faces in the pictures.  Caitlin was practically jumping up and down as she pointed and spouted off all their names.  But it got better!

Next, our new friend, Deidra set up a Skype call with two of the girls who left six months ago and they chatted away for about thirty minutes.  That is, after Caitlin's friends remembered how to speak Mandarin.  Seems she'd forgotten at first.

Our day ended with a short prayer and a warm hug from our beautiful daughter.  It's 11:30pm and I think she's finally asleep.  She has gotten up at least four times and re-arranged all the gift bags for tomorrow.  She is very excited once again.  Let's hope it stays that way for at least an hour or so.

We are, all of us, overwhelmed with emotion and exhaustion.  Tomorrow will be an incredibly difficult day for each of us but especially Caitlin.  She will have to say goodbye to her caregivers and friends a second time and navigate these confusing feelings once again.  Pray for our protection and emotional strength, pray for Caitlin's healing and pray that we show our love for the Lord in all that we do.  Love to you all!

By His Grace,

Jeff & SongAe

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