Friday, July 30, 2010
Lorrie and I have been through a whirlwind tour over the past 48 hours. We took a train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong Wednesday afternoon that took us 2 1/2 hours. We arrived at our hotel late and grabbed the hotel shuttle to the airport terminal to find a place to eat. Those Burger King whoppers tasted pretty good. We didn't get into bed that night until well after 11:00. We boarded our plane on Thursday (China Time) at 12:10 PM. We flew for almost 15 hours before landing in Chicago. Getting through immigration and customs was crazy. We had to get our bags and recheck them. I must have shown my passport 100 times! We were feeling pretty good until we got the news, our flight to B'ham was delayed. We stayed in Chicago for 8 hours until our plane was ready. We finally took off at 9:40 PM and landed in B'ham at 11:20 PM. What a great sight it was to see our family and friends at the airport. We expected our family to be there, but our friends really blew us away. They didn't leave the airport until well after midnight. Many of them had to get up for work the next morning. What great friends we have. We were totally exhausted. Lorrie and I went 36 hours without sleep during this stretch. The girls have really taken to him and he likes them pretty good as well. We had a great surprise when we got home, there was a new bike for Brodie on our back deck. Thanks to the DeArman's, McLaughlin's, and the People's for the gift. How truly thoughtful that was. Brodie wasn't too hip on going to bed, (that is going to be an ongoing battle), so we finally hit the bed around 2:30 AM. Brodie woke us up this morning bright and early at 6AM. No rest for the weary. But, the good news is that we are at home and we now face a "new normal". We quickly realized that life as we knew it before is gone. It is better, but different. This little guy is giving us a run for our money. We are still so tired and weary from the trip, but being with our beautiful girls makes us feel so much better. Our hearts are heavy this morning for the Couch family and for Lorrie's cousin Jason. We are much in prayer today for both of these great families.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
What does it mean to be an orphan? To not have a family to call your own? To not know unconditional love? To never have people to fill the roles of Mama and Baba? To not have the assurance that no matter how bad you mess up, or act out that you can always run into loving, protecting, and forgiving arms. And so it was with our son. And so it was with us. We continue to marvel at the gift that God has given us in Brodie. He is a sweet, loving, charismatic, charming, naughty, affectionate and silly little guy. We bought him a new pair of sandals today. Most likely his first pair of shoes that were bought specifically for him and only for him. We watched him experience the zoo through beautiful and excited eyes. We also took an oath at the US consulate today and officially he is Brodie James Blackwell! So tonight friends, there is one less orphan in the world. One little boy who will one day come to understand the unconditional love and belonging of a forever family and an Abba Father. No matter what his life brings, he will always be our son. And so it is with us- we too, adopted, loved and forever changed by the love of a Father who chose to adopt us as his very own children. Thank you Father for our son. Thank you Father for YOUR Son
Last night we took the Dinner Cruise on the Pearl River through downtown Guangzhou. It was a beautiful ride at night with the tall buildings lit up all around us. The "dinner" wasn't too good. On the buffet table was marinated duck feet, pig intestines, chicken parts including a whole head in the pot, other unidentifiable items that we still have questions about. We both ate rice and noodles and that is about it. Some buffet, huh? After dinner a clown came out and entertained us all. Brodie got to be a part of the show as well, his little face was so excited. Everything is such a new experience for him, it is amazing to watch. Brodie isn't the only child experiencing new things. There are 11 other children here and everyone is making great progress with their new families and their new life. One child whose hands don't work like yours and mine, but she has taken ahold of her new family with a strong grip. Another who has a cleft lip and cleft palate, but when she smiles she can light up a room. A precious little girl who has developmental issues, but she can make your day when she greets you. The stories go on and on. What a joy it has been to be around these wonderful children. They are all heros, true overcomers who refused to let disabilities define their lives. Time is running out for us here in Guangzhou, we leave for Hong Kong tomorrow afternoon.
Monday, July 26, 2010
It is Monday here in Guongzhou and the rain is falling outside. It has rained just about everyday at some point. Yesterday we had a huge breakthrough. Brodie actually got into the pool and played. It was a kiddie pool, but a body of water none the less. He seemed to really enjoy himself. At one point, he slipped and his face went all the way underwater, he didn't like that at all. He got over that and began to play around again. The thunder forced us in prematurely, but we enjoyed our 40-45 minutes outside anyway. Brodie is really beginning to test us on his boundaries. Last night he was playing with a rubberband and hit me in the head with it. I got onto him about shooting a rubberband at someone's eyes, only to watch him a few minutes later do the same thing to Lorrie. We disciplined him and sat him on his bed for a while. He cried a little and when it was time for bed he really began to act out. I sat down with him and tried to reinforce the discipline and our love for him. It is so hard with such a language barrier to explain to him what he has done wrong, it is very frustrating. It is also hard to balance bonding, loving and yet giving him boundaries to live by. We must love him with everything we have, but he also needs to begin learning right from wrong. We believe he didn't receive any discipline at the orphanage, so he has never had anyone to tell him what to do and not do. We went to bed last night frustrated and totally exhausted. Having a 6 year old little boy 24 hours a day for 7 days will begin to wear on you, especially when we can't understand his language. I have noticed that he is constantly watching me and even mimicking my actions. Today in the bus we both had a drink in our hands and everytime I took a drink, he took a drink. He had to get some glasses today just like me. This morning we went to Shaimen Island and had his TB test checked. Everything was negative and we are cleared on our medical now. Simon took our papers to the consulate today and now he is officially "OUR SON." We also had some time to do some shopping on the island today. We got a lot of great treasures to take back home. We are concerned and praying for my dad back home. He burned his hands yesterday and spend a good bit of time at the doctor. He is in a lot of pain. Please join us in prayer for him as we pray for God's healing touch. We are also thankful for our friend Jerry Stamps. He is cutting our grass for us while we are away. He is such a great man of God. Thanks Jerry. We go on our Pearl River Dinner Cruise tonight. They are serving Chinese food on the cruise so for Lorrie it will just be a fasting cruise. We love everyone and we are terribly homesick. We are counting down the days. Someone please send over a Milo burger UPS overnight.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
We love how he smiles so big that his eyes close. We love how he mimics his favorite superhero. We love how he giggles when we give him his bath. We love his boyish curiosity about everything. We love the way he grabs our hands when we are out walking. We love how he gets up in the morning and gives us a hug. We have taught him to pray before meals and we love how he says, "amen" now automatically before he eats. When he says "Wash'ur" that means get me to the bathroom right away. (BTW, learned hard lesson today about public restrooms here. Before he sits on the toilet you better make sure there is toilet paper around. You have to bring your own toilet paper with you. Didn't know that. I do now!) When he does something that he is proud of we love how he says, "Good Job." We love how he talks nonstop in Chinese, even though we cannot understand 99% of what he is saying. He is very expressive. We feel so close to the Lord here in China. We have both grown as a result. In a place where there is no Christian influence, God has been pouring his Spirit into our hearts. God is so amazing. It is so incredible to think that God had this great plan to bring us all together. His plan for this sick little orphan boy and his plan for this Alabama couple is amazingly intertwined for all eternity. "For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11. Yes, the Lord had a plan for Gou FuFeng in Linyi City, Shandong China. The promise of this verse transcends cultures, nationalities, skin color, and continents. My prayer for each of you reading this tonight is to realize how big God really is. If he has this plan for an orphan boy, imagine what kind of plan he has for your life. Our prayer for our son is not only that he will find his place in this world. Our prayer is that he will change his world through the power of Jesus Christ. What a testimony he has and we pray that it will be told.
Today was the dreaded clinic visit. Every adoptive family loathes for this day because they know that their new baby is going to get shots. Brodie needed 3 shots and at TB skin test. We kept the cost under a thousand yen so that was great. All 11 lifeline families loaded up in a bus and off we went to Shamian island for the medical visits, and lunch. The clinic is controlled chaos, things are so crazy. There are hundreds of people with babies and kids crammed into this small medical clinic. Kids are crying, parents are frantically going from one medical station to the next, all the while trying to make sure that they have the right paper work for the right person. It is one of the most stressful atmospheres I have ever encountered. We first went to the eye exam room and it was all a little overwhelming for Brodie. He teared up for about a minute. Lorrie comforted him, but he wasn't able to complete the exam. Next we were off to the immunization room. We were bracing ourselves for the worst, but we were completely amazed at how great he did. 3 Shots and one TB test and the child never even flinched. No tears, nothing. He cries over an eye exam and doesn't flinch with needles, go figure. We know that it was due to the effective prayer warriors back home. Thanks, it is working. Next we were in the ENT room and then physical exam room and back to the eye exam. This time, he did great with the eye exam. We left the clinic with everything finished except returning Monday for the TB check. Afterward we visited Lucy's grill, a popular attraction for westerners like us. Now we are taking it easy in our room for a while. We painfully miss our girls back home. It is so great to see their sweet faces on the skype each day. We also can't wait to get Brodie home to our pediatrician and dentist, just to know that everything is OK according to them.
Friday, July 23, 2010
A change of scenery is such a great thing. I am writing to you from the Garden Inn in Guangzhou, China. First, a few observations about China. They are obsessed with American Basketball. I have seen a lot of Laker jerseys and Houston Rocket apparel here. When they stop at a red light they put the car in neutral and put on the emergency brake. Their language takes a while to get used to. Everyone talks like they are angry, but they are not. The inflection in their voice is so aggressive. Every time I drive around town I feel as though Godzilla is going to appear at any moment. Lorrie and I are the object of everyone's stares all the time. It is amazing. Lorrie and I are still losing weight. I am down to 163 tonight, which is a 7 pound loss in 7 day. Brodie really is the typical little boy. We were laying in bed last night trying to get him to sleep. It was quiet and all of a sudden I heard Brodie break wind, and then he began to giggle. Maybe love is not the only universal language? Brodie took his first plane ride today. The two hour flight was great. He did so good. His little face lit up when we took off, he couldn't believe it. He talked nonstop even though neither of us could understand a word. He can say mouth, nose, ears, and eyes and point to all of them. He has his alphabet all the way to H now. We said goodbye to our friends from Canada today. Joel and Gigi adopted Dan Dan and they flew to Beijing to the Canadian consulate today. When we arrived in Guangzhou we were met by the sweetest guides, Miko and Simon. We are also with several other American families now, which is so nice. Our hotel is breathtaking, it is by far the nicest hotel we have ever stayed in. Tomorrow is going to be a rough day so say some extra prayers for us. We will get his immunizations in the morning and it is not going to be fun. We have been told to expect 2-3 shots, but who knows. I am so proud of Lorrie, she has really taken to him and is already showing the love that only a mother can. I love to watch them interact together. He has never known the gentle touch of a mother's hand, but I love the way he is responding. I will update later tomorrow, thanks so much for your interest in our journey. Remember, we were all orphans once.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
This morning we drove to the beautiful lake about 10 minutes from our hotel. The lake is famous in China because, according to our guide, the poets would meet here at the lake, write poetry and drink liquor. Doesn't that sound fun? It was a beautiful place with many Chinese gardens and lotus flowers. There were willow trees everywhere along with many historical markers. Afterward, Lorrie and Brodie went back to the room and I went to the Notary Public station to pick up some important documents. We had a great time visiting the Shandong Science and Technology Center. It is like the McWane center back home. There were many things that Brodie could touch and play with. The highlight was the huge play area complete with slides, ball pits, tunnels and more. We sit down and just watched him play. At one point he got into a throwing match with another little boy. Brodie was drilling this kid with the balls in the pit. I think I see pitching potential here. BTW, he is left handed when he writes and throws. As I sit there watching him play I just sit there and pondered the last 72 hours of this little guys life. Monday morning he woke up on his plywood bed (no mattress or pillow), in an orphanage behind a police station in Linyi. He was just another homeless kid whose parents were MIA and no relatives to speak of. He has never gotten a Christmas present, birthday gift, or eaten an ice cream cone. He has never been held by a mother, never been given a high five by his dad, never celebrated one stinking holiday. Every experience is brand new. He didn't want to leave the play area, he was in heaven. Lorrie and I are picking up on a few words he is using, but the language barrier is still very real and frustrating. But, something amazing is happening in Jinan, China. A little orphan boy and two people from Alabama are all becoming family. He is bonding so well, sleeping great, and so excited about everything. So thankful to Mike Gordon for taking care of our Wednesday night prayer meeting back home. Valley Creek, your pastor misses you so much. You are all so special to Lorrie and I. Can't wait to see you soon.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
How would we describe our son? ACTIVE! For the parents of 3 girls, a 6 year old boy has been an experience. Wednesday was suppossed to be a rest day for us. To just spend the day at the hotel, rest, swim, and bond was the agenda. I (Kevin) took him down to the pool with his swim cap on and when I jumped in, Brodie began to cry. Big, big tears! He is scared to death of the pool. Needless to say, we got out of there as quickly as we went in. Our great swim moment lasted 2 minutes. We have found out that a day with Brodie is non stop playing. I have thrown him on the bed, picked him up by the ankles upside down, grabbed his hands and flung him into the air so many times that I am sore. He just can't get enough of the attention that we are giving him. I feel sorry for him. I little boy should not be in a hotel room all day. We are about to go out to what is the "central park" of Jinan. A big grassy area where we can just rip and roar together. He is very smart, inquisitive and somewhat mischevious. Lorrie said, "I love you" and to our shock he said to her, "I love you too." He knows A-G of the alphabet and can count to ten. I read him the Bible today for the first time. He could not understand a word I said, but one day he will. The prayers of each of you are being felt. Many of you have prayed for bonding, it is working. You have prayed for safety, we have felt safe. I can feel the power of the Holy Spirit today. I pray for the people of China. So many people in need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are both dropping weight. When I left the states I weighed 170, this morning I weighed 164. Keep the comments coming, we are so encouraged by them. We are already soo homesick. We just keep thinking, if we can just get to Guangzou we will be OK. We love you all so much. It has been great to Skype with so many of you.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Early morning today. We were up at 5:30 AM, showers, skype, breakfast and in the lobby by 7AM to leave for our trip to Brodie's hometown. Let me tell you how to create instant bonding between mom, dad and adopted son. 7 HOURS IN A MAZDA 6 BACKSEAT! Our trip to Linyi was 2 1/2 hours, our trip back to Jinan was 5 hours long. Our guide, Aaron got lost on the way back. He never admitted he was lost but he stopped 4 times to ask directions. Two hours in to the trip home I asked him how much longer and he said 1 hour and 1/2. One hour later when we were on some dirt road I asked him how much longer and he said 90 minutes!! Lorrie and I were ready to fling ourselves from the car, into some rice patty to be picked up by the US embassy. I must say, that Brodie did great. A six year old boy (FULL OF ENERGY!) cooped up in a car for that long was way too much to ask, but he colored an entire coloring book (Thanks Angie), took a 30 minute nap, played with Maggie's DS, and action figures. In Linyi we went to pick up his Visa. He had to go to the bathroom while we were there and I took him next door to the Police Station, it was the only place with a bathroom on the block we could use. That was my first experience with the squat potties with him. That was soooo nasty. The smell of that place was unforgettable. We were asked to eat lunch at a local restaurant with the orphanage director. The meal was on us of course. Crunchy vegetables with pork, lotus root with shrimp, dumplins, oyster soup, and bean curd. Yum. The look on Lorrie's face when the director was insisting that she eat the soup was hilarious. We finally got back to our hotel after 6PM. We gave him a bath, took him to Walmart and McDonalds for a night out. His favorite action figure is ultraman! I bought him an ultraman figure, some ultraman underwear (picked me out some as well, we gotta match), and some milk for him. We all walked together as a family and did we ever get some strange looks. We are ready for bed now, all is good. We are so tired. Boys are soo different, he is kicking our tails tonight. So hard to discipline a little boy when you cannot speak his language. I am sure he has called me bad names, but I can't prove it. So glad to hear that Betty Heatherly's surgery went well today and Mary is out of the hospital. I miss my church family. I love you all.
Kevin and Lorrie
Such a bitter sweet time. Here we are in front of his orphanage. He will never again set foot inside this place. Notice his two friends outside to see us off.
Kevin and Lorrie
Such a bitter sweet time. Here we are in front of his orphanage. He will never again set foot inside this place. Notice his two friends outside to see us off.
Monday, July 19, 2010
We all want to call him Brodie, but at this time he goes by "Fung Fung". He has a lot of energy. He was jumping from one bed to the next last night before bed. Lorrie and I gave him a bath last night and that went great. He was so dirty. Stained from head to toe, especially his feet. He loved his Buzzlightyear pajamas as well. We had a great time last night with some new friends. GiGi and Joel are from Canada and they have adopted a little boy from here as well. Brodie ate every bite of that Pizza Hut meal. He was just shoving food in his mouth, it was crazy. He doesn't like cold drinks, he would rather have it warm. We are on our way to Linyi City today to pick up his Visa and hopefully tour the orphanage. We don't have high hopes that we will be able to do that. We love you all, more updates later. Kevin, Lorrie and Brodie.
At 1:21 PM, our world changed forever when a really cute young man walked into the lobby of the Crown Plaza hotel in Jinan, China. At first, he was scared and he cried a little, but he really did great after that. He was escorted in by the director of Nanny's from his orphanage, a nanny, and two drivers. It has to be so overwhelming to him. He calls me Baba, and Lorrie MaMa. There seemed to be an instant bond between us as we got into the car and drove to KFC for some food and then to the civil affairs office. We then went to the Notary and he really opened up. He was all boy. We wrestled around a little and played, it was great. I have already learned the Chinese word for no and come here. Those have come in handy. He began to cry on the way back as he realized that his nanny's were gone. But a sucker and a hug helped out a ton. We now sit in our room and he is really enjoying the TV and remote. He just keeps mashing the buttons. He catches a football like an Auburn receiver, but we are going to work on that. Lorrie just brushed his teeth, washed his feet, and they now sit on the bed together. He is so beautiful, words cannot describe how beautiful he really is. He is a gift from the Lord to us. This year has been so crazy. So much paper work, so much money, so much time, so much stress, but the minute we saw his face it was all worth it. He is so worth it. We really do love him. Such a strange thing to say about someone we just met, but it was instant love. He is our son and God has prepared him for this. Please continue to pray for this bond between us. Pray that this bond will overcome the language barrier that we now face. We thought of each of you today. Your prayers have worked. We love you and he will love you too very soon. Kevin and Lorrie
Sunday, July 18, 2010
This is Michelle (kevin's sister) I just spoke with Kevin and Lorrie on skype. They are anxiously awaiting Brodie's arrival today. They are unable to access their blog or facebook in China, although they are receiving emails so they are able to see comments that are left for them. I will be updating the blog daily, please keep the comments coming, they are loving the encouragment from friends and family. Please keep them in your prayers as they meet their son for the first time.
Last night Lorrie and I went out for a walk around the city of Jinan. It is amazing the sheer number of people that are in China. The country will only allow families to have one child, yet there are so many people here. The city of Jinan is no where near one of the largest cities in China, yet it alone has over 7 million people. On the streets last night you really had to be about your wits. There were bicycles, motorized bikes, mopeds and people everywhere on the sidewalks. We walked to the walmart which is about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. It is so unique to see a walmart right in the middle of a large metropolitan area, but this was like no walmart we have ever seen. Two stories tall with an escalator, bottom floor was grocery items, upstairs everything else. The meat section is indescribable. We are used to seeing fish fillets on ice, they have entire stingrays on ice, squid, fish heads, and turtles. They hang ducks on hooks for your viewing pleasure. PETA would have a fit. After our visit to walmart I sent Lorrie up to our room and I went to Pizza Hut for a Peperoni pizza. It took me 30 minutes to find someone who understood that I just wanted a pizza with only peperoni's. They thought that was so funny. Finally got the meal (62 YEN) and headed upstairs. We ate the pizza, watched a movie on my laptop and we both fell asleep around 9PM. About 2:30 this morning Lorrie said,"Are you asleep?" Of course, I was not and we laid there the rest of the night talking about what our day would bring. Our son will be at our door in approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes and our life together will begin. We are very anxious as you can imagine, but we know that our church, family and friends are lifting us up to the Father. I have a peace that describes explanation. It is a dreary day here in Jinan, rain and low clouds, but I pray that our Son will brighten our day. We love you so much. Kevin and Lorrie