Today was a long day of doctors visits and passport appointments. Our guide who leads us through each and every day and step of the process is wonderful, and she makes each appointment as smooth and easy as it can possibly be. I think there is just an emotional toll the six of us are feeling, so that by the time 7pm comes, we are all practically falling asleep in our chairs at the dinner table.
Today Mia Grace had to pass her medical exams to be able to leave China and enter the U.S. No fever, infection, etc. And while she passed the exam and was a trooper throughout each stage of the afternoon, she was silent throughout each and every part of the examination. And while I have always prayed for my babies NOT to cry at the doctor’s office, this was the first time I was praying that I would hear my baby cry. Because tears at discomfort, pain, or unfamiliarity would show that she believes if she cries, someone will hear those cries…and respond with comfort. The lack of tears tells me at some point she learned, probably very early on, not to cry…because nobody would be there to answer.
I’m not trying to be melodramatic or overly emotional. It’s just factual. And while I’ve known that fact about institutionalized kids for a while now, knowledge has turned to compassion, empathy, and even grief today as I have watched Mia Grace. The knowledge that she already had her surgery when she was less than a year old and didn’t have parents there to comfort her in the hospital through surgery and recovery is really tough to think about. I’ve thought about today all of the ear infections, stomach bugs, coughs, runny noses, and downright strange viruses my three girls had their first 18 months of life and all of the late nights, rocking chairs, TLC, and doctors visits that occurred for each of them. And then I think about Mia Grace. It has been a teary day for me and a somber day for Jason as we contemplate the reality of her past.
I know, though, that the Lord has a plan for this little girl that will combine her tough inner strength and the healing I know will inevitably come in her heart to move her towards trust and attachment. I know the Lord will not waste her tears, or lack thereof, but will use all things in Mia Grace’s past, present, and future to make her into a woman who will fulfill all of God’s purposes for her in her generation.
Until that day of ultimate healing and strength, as her parents, we pray for her tears and thank the Lord for the opportunity to know her and love her in His perfect time.
Tomorrow we have a day off from appointments (hooray!) and get to go to the zoo. I am hoping the monkeys or giraffe will be a delight to our girl, and maybe tomorrow we will even get the first hint of a smile…
The Baker 6
Our first full day with Mia Grace is almost complete. I say almost because everyone is asleep except MG…she is sitting up next to me in bed, wide awake. After her bath (first hair wash) and bottle, I went to lay her down in her bed and she immediately started crying. So, we are up, and who knows for how long. She will probably be sleeping with Mama tonight.
All in all, it was a good day. A day of getting to know each other. She continues to stare at us out of big brown eyes, silently soaking everything in. And thank you, Carol Taylor, for that word. For she is indeed soaking. After going back to the civil office today to complete some paperwork, Mia Grace fell asleep on me in the car, and when I tried to put her in her bed when we got back in the room, she began to cry, her first real sound of the day, so I scooped her up and she took a two hour nap laying on my chest on our bed.
The longer I am in her presence, the more grateful I am for the privilege it is to earn an orphan’s trust. Someone who has never, in all probability, fallen asleep on anyone’s chest for two hours is willing to take a risk with someone she does not know and fall asleep on mine. What a gift. I can tell that a mighty foundation of prayer has been laid on her behalf and our behalf by her response to us the past few days. Thank you for those prayers. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
And thank you for all of your prayers for our big girls. They have handled the trip and the transition like champs. The only tears around here are over who gets to hold, feed, bathe, play with Mia Grace next. We should have adopted three babies all at once – one for each girl!
Here is a video of Lillian and Lizzie helping her take a few steps:
One final thing: I know I mentioned how well she ate last night at dinner, but just to reiterate, the girl can eat! She will try anything! This morning for breakfast she polished off one fried egg, a serving of kale (I know, right – who eats kale for breakfast?!), cantaloupe, and a link of chicken sausage. Just so you all would believe me, I took a picture of her dinner plate. First time to eat watermelon – and she loved every bite! (Aunt Cara, she really is your niece )
As you all wake up, we are off to rest – rest in the great, great love of the Lord who loves to set the fatherless in families. Thankful for the gift of Him and each of you,
The Baker 6
My favorite moment of the day was after dinner (she ate and ate and ate…squash, zucchini, pork, rice, cantaloupe…we all literally stared at her for over an hour as she steadily devoured everything on her plate). We gave her a bath, gave her a bottle, and began reading the Scriptures and praying over her. She was asleep within minutes, as were all of my other girls as well. Our arms and hearts are full. Thank you for walking the day’s journey with us. We love and appreciate each of you,
The Baker 6
Family and Friends, meet Mia Grace! There simply are no words to describe the supernatural joy and peace that comes when they place your child in your arms.
(I couldn’t get the whole video to download – only just this first clip. Will try to post more later.)
The girls first time to hold her…
Mia Grace has been with our family for three hours now, and she has yet to make a peep. She simply takes everything in with those big beautiful brown eyes and stares at us all. She is like a live doll. The biggest surprise of all when they handed her to us was that she has already had her cleft lip and palate surgery! We had no idea! She had the surgery back in November before we were even matched!
So…let the adventure begin! It is truly surreal holding this sweet petite little girl in my lap. She is precious beyond words and truly, now, Mine…Ours…Our Mia.
There truly are no words to explain the supernatural joy and peace that comes when they place that baby in your arms…friends and family, meet Mia Grace…
In just four hours, at 2pm Guangzhou time and 1am Houston time, we will meet our guide, Lily, in the lobby of our hotel to go to get Mia Grace. We have a few hours to kill before then, so I wanted to give you the low down on where we are staying in Guangzhou and will be for the next twelve days.
Before I do that, though, I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for the comments you all are leaving. Jason and I read each and every one, and most of them bring me to tears. The support, encouragement, and excitement we feel from friends and family back home is overwhelming in the best sort of way. Thank you for eagerly and prayerfully waiting alongside of us!
When we pulled up to our hotel yesterday, we were so pleasantly blown away! The Garden Hotel is beautiful, and our apartment for the duration of our stay here will make the transition with Mia Grace so much easier than expected. Thank you, Simi, and everyone at Living Hope Adoption Agency for taking such good care of us!
I was advised by several people who had traveled to China to make sure to bring some sort of breakfast bar or food for the girls since rice and fish isn’t usually high on the American breakfast menu. So here are the ten pounds of oatmeal packets I packed for us for breakfast:
Here are two final pictures of our hotel: the shelf in Mia Grace’s room where her things are waiting for her. So many of you have contributed to what’s on that shelf – thank you Jenny, Aunt Robin, and Jacky, just to name a few!:
The next time I post, we will have a baby in our arms, Lord willing! My stomach is in knots, but my heart is at peace, thanks to so many of your prayers and the goodness of our great God!
Much love to each of you, The Bakers
I’ve always wondered what I would feel like the night before going to get my child. And while in some ways it feels like any other normal night – the girls are fed, bathed, and quietly sleeping in their beds – in many ways it feels like the night before Christmas. I am tired and weary from all the preparations, but behind the weariness is great excitement tinged with fear.
I am staring out the living room window of our hotel apartment (and yes, I said the words “living room” and “hotel apartment.” Unlike our hotel room in Hong Kong that was the size of a postage stamp, our living quarters here feel like the Taj Mahal! We are all so excited to have ROOM to breathe and adjust to being a family of 6 for the next 12 days! I will give you a tour of the place tomorrow.) Our view from our room in the Garden Hotel overlooks the city of Guangzhou, a city that our guide told us today is home to 19 million people, and houses 20-30 large orphanages. And for the very first time, I can look down at the city scape below me knowing that my child is out there, for the first time ever, close by.
I woke up this morning with two verses on my heart and mind. The first one is the verse from I Corinthians 13 – “Now we see through a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face.” That’s exactly how I feel about Mia Grace. I’ve seen pictures, 4 of them to be exact, taken when she was 10 months old. She is now almost 18 months old, and I have no idea, really, what she looks like. I don’t know if her hair is short or long, if she is crawling or walking or sitting, if she is short or tall, short and plump, or long and lean. All I’ve had up until this point are dim glimpses. But tomorrow…tomorrow I shall see face to face, and all of my questions shall be answered. And the thought nearly undoes me. I’ve waited a long time to see that little face, and I am ready for the real thing instead of my own vain imaginations.
Here’s the funny thing – with as many times and with as much anticipation as Jason, myself, the girls, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and dear friends have anticipated seeing what Mia Grace’s face looks like, not once has she ever anticipated ours. She is absolutely clueless as to what is about to happen to her tomorrow and all of the longing, work, cost, and tears that has gone into our future face to face meeting.
My longings to see Mia Grace are imperfect, and I don’t mean to imply in any way that our family perfectly mirrors or images Christ. But I will say that adoption has given me, and continues to give me, more identification with the story of adoption and redemption in the family of God woven throughout the pages of Scripture. That being said, I’ve read that verse in I Corinthians 13 all my life, picturing my own anticipation, imagining how I will feel the moment I am able to Christ face to face. Not once has it ever crossed my mind, until this morning, that He waits to see my face with far more eagerness and anticipation than I wait to see His. Why? It’s because He has more skin in the game. It has cost Him a great deal more than it will ever cost me so that He could see me up and close and personal and call me “His” as part of His forever family.
So I approach tomorrow with great excitement, knowing that a face to face encounter is coming and that it mirrors, if only slightly, the face to face meeting I will have one day with Christ and how He must feel in the interim, waiting for me.
But while I am excited, I am also afraid, and I feel the weight of my own inadequacy and all of the unknowns and hard work that awaits Jason, me, and the girls. So the second verse I woke up with on my heart was Psalm 46:10: “Cease striving, and know that I am God, and I will be exalted among the nations.”
It was so good of God to have the day before our “Gotcha Day” to be the Sabbath Day. For ingrained in the very fabric of the day was the reminder to cease striving. To stop working. To stop working, and pretending, and striving, and proving to yourself that you are the one who is powerful and can make things happen and…rest. Worship. Put God back upon the throne of your heart where He always deserves to be and remind yourself He has never come down from the throne of the world. There was great comfort in going to church this morning, to worshipping in an auditorium of faces that looked nothing like mine but were bent on the same common purpose: bending the knee to Christ, worshipping Him as the only wise God. There was great relief in remembering this morning that God is God in Hong Kong and Guangzhou in China as much as He is in Houston, and it is only when we let the hands drop and stop trying to accomplish things in our own strength that we are reminded His strength is sufficient and His purposes will be accomplished, no matter what may come. My job is to cease striving and to start trusting: God is God, and I am not.
What a relief.
So I go into tomorrow with those two thoughts and two verses on my mind: I cannot wait to see Mia Grace face to face, for in seeing her, I also see a bit of my future meeting with Christ, and when I am afraid, I remember that God is on the throne, His reign is secure, and His good purposes will be accomplished throughout all the earth. In China, in Houston, in Mia Grace, in friends and in family, and in me.
With that, good night. Worship well this morning in Houston, and tomorrow we will all get to meet…Mia Grace.
We went to church this morning (more on that later – such a strengthening and filling time of worship), and now we are back at the hotel, bags packed and ready to go, waiting for our van ride to Guangzhou in mainland China, the city where our Mia Grace has always lived. After reading to their little sister, the girls have been a bit stir crazy and have been making snow angels on the bed…or should I say beds.
This morning before church, Lillian and Lizzie wrote a journal entry and prayer and drew a picture for Mia Grace.
Me are so thankful for our time in Hong Kong of adjustment, fun, and rest, but we are off to mainland China to see MG tomorrow!
Yesterday we braved the streets and entered a world in Hong Kong known as Ladies Market. Picture Times Square in New York City – all of the screens, hype, media, press of people – and then picture all of the streets covered or tented and divided up into stalls with every kind of souvenir and marketable good known to mankind. It was like Manhattan on steroids. With a firm grip to our hands, the girls were wide eyed and in heaven. Everyone got to bargain for a “treasure”, a small taste of Hong Kong to take home with us. Getting to and from the market was an adventure in and of itself, and we had our first experience on the Hong Kong subway. Talk about an amazing work of logistical genius! We almost lost Lizzie in the fray – she hopped on a train without us behind her and the doors shut with her on the inside, wide eyed, looking at us on the outside. In a move like Superman, Jason forced open the doors and jammed his body between the doors and pulled Lizzie out with a sea of unfamiliar faces looking at us and probably thinking, “Dumb Americans.” The train sat there for a few moments for the system to reset before racing off down the track while we all dog piled on Lizzie with a huge hug. I have never been more thankful to see her big eyes looking up at me. Whew.
We arrived back at our hotel without anymore mishaps and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and eating an early dinner in an effort to stay awake.
We we are off to church this morning – St. Andrews, an Anglican Church Jason spotted yesterday while on a walk with the girls. We are thankful to have the opportunity to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ here in Kowloon, one more day before getting Mis Grace. Praying your worship is full of hope and strength this morning, too, remembering the Lord is glorified in all the earth.
His love and ours, The Baker 5 (soon to be The Baker 6!)
Yesterday was our first day to see the city of Hong Kong. It is truly a beautiful city, one of the most unique places I have ever visited.
The city of Hong Kong is made up of different islands, and we are staying on an island in the part of the city known as Kowloon, so first we took a ferry across the harbor to the main island of Hong Kong.
Then we rode a bus, one of the red, open air buses reminiscent of the British tourist buses.
The day started as cloudy and overcast –
But by the time we made our way around the peak, the clouds had cleared and we could see Hong Kong and her outlying islands in all of her glory –
(I am hoping it comes through, but the above clip is a video I took of the view at the top of Victoria Peak. Click on it and let me know if you can actually see it!)
The highlight of our day, though, was seeing Samuel and Robbi Chang, friends of ours from The Seed Company, a Bible translation ministry we have been involved with for the past six or seven years. They have lived in Hong Kong for 25 years and move in just a few days to Arlington, Texas, to join The Seed Company staff. It was beyond kind and gracious of them to give us their time, and seeing just a glimpse of their city reminded us of how thankful we are for their willingness to leave all that is familiar in order to serve the Bibleless peoples of the world.
By mid-afternoon, all of us were pretty pooped and doing our best to stay awake and keep moving. We did a force-march with the girls down to the harbor to soak in a little more of the sea and salty air.
Our blonde headed girls stuck out like sore thumbs, and Jason and I got a kick out of six or seven people coming up and asking if they could take their picture with L, L, and C. The first few pictures, the girls were pretty shy, but by the end, Lillian was downright posing!
Our goal was for everyone to stay awake and make it until 8pm. At 7pm, I laid down beside the girls to read to them, and by 7:10pm, we were all asleep. Caroline made it until 4am, so it still might be a long day, but 4am sure is better than no sleep at all the night before!
We are off to do a little more exploring this morning while all of friends in America are getting ready to head to bed.
It is hard for us to think of much else at this point besides getting Mia Grace, but we know that Monday will be here before we know it.
I woke up at 5am this morning and was comforted by the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 62:8-12:
“Trust in God at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Men of low degree are only vanity, and men of rank are a lie; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than breath.
Do not trust in oppression, and do not vainly hope in robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.
Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God; and lovingkindess is Thine, O Lord, for You recompense a man according to his work.”
Halfway across the other side of the world, God’s character still remains the same. Power always belongs to Him, and His lovingkindness always holds us together. As we walk through the streets of Hong Kong today, we walk in the power of His Hand and the strength of His love, a love that deeply desires to draw all people to Himself…the people of Hong Kong, the people of Houston, the orpans of Guangzhou, Mia Grace, my family, you and me.
Wherever you walk today, walk in the strength of His love.
His love and ours,