Welcome to our story...

God has richly blessed us with a big, fun family...
We have 10 children... 3 homegrown & 7 born in our hearts!

Blake... our oldest is 25 and has a heart for the Lord. He enjoys; church, family, mission trips, making music, playing guitar & drums at church, and writing.

Brianna Faith... is 21 and has a compassionate & tender heart. She's a wonderful big sister. She began talking to us about adoption when she was 11 yrs old. She is "Faith in motion"

Brent... is 17 - he's an awesome guy! He's in highschool. He has a special heart for family and God. He loves sports! Brent loves to laugh & is full of life!

Bethany Lidia... now 15, joined our family in August 2006 at 9 yrs old. She's from the beautiful country of Guatemala. She started school for the very first time (at 9 yrs old) and is now in 9th grade. Lidia's passion is sports & dancing!

Benjamin Ross... 15 yrs old. We first saw his picture in April 2007 & came home in May '08. Ben is deaf, but his special need is that he needed a family. Ben loves making home-runs & hanging out with family & friends. Ben is from Tianjin, China.

Briella Xiyao... our beautiful 15 yr old daughter from Fujian Province, China. She joined our family in July 2009. She's always wearing a big smile! She has a passion for the deaf & very proficient in sign language. She loves basketball!!

Bellamei Ying... our Inner Mongolian princess. Bellamei is 14 yrs old and held my hand for the first time on July 18, 2011. She has melted into our big family seamlessly and it is truly an honor to be her mommy.

Brinley Grace FuChuan... is 9 years old and joined our family in July 2007. She's from Jiangxi Province, China. She has the most gentle, sweet spirit... she's an angel!

Bayla Shea Chao-Yu... our youngest. She's 9 yrs old, 5 months younger than Brinley. Bayla's from Hunan, China & came home at 11.5 months. She's bright, funny (and spicy!) We can't get enough of her hugs & kisses.

and our caboose... Braxton Emanuel Jordan - 8 yrs old? (see post below) He's from Guangdong Province and is now officially our son!

This 1 min video shows how we've GROWN!

It's past midnight on Monday ...

Sorry I haven't posted in 4 days...things have been pretty busy, and well, we are just really enjoying ourselves.  Since it took me so long to post all the pictures tonight, I will make this short, as it's very late here.  The pictures will give you a pretty good idea of what we've been up to.  By the way, yesterday as Susan and I were listening to New Life 91.9, (our favorite Christian radio station) via the internet..., I decided to write to them to let the station know we were listening on the other side of the globe.  I have just received an email from Gary Morland and he wants to call my hotel room tomorrow night to do an interview that he will edit for airing.  I told him yes, but I am very nervous!!!!!
We've been having fun here in Guangzhou with shopping, walking through little town streets, swimming, and playing.  Tonight we found the one and only microwave on this property (at a deli here at the White Swan) and got permission to pop some microwave popcorn that we had brought from home.  Imagine 5 Chinese women standing around the microwave, marveling at the popping of the popcorn, and Ben squealing with excitement to see the bag get big.  He didn't really like the popcorn, but had fun making it.
Anyway, have to go to sleep now...everyone is doing great.  Ben is getting better since being on the antibiotics.  We are anxious to return home, but have thoroughly enjoyed our trip.  I cannot wait for Ben to get to meet his dad and other siblings.  That will be so exciting!!  Have gotten the opportunity several times to speak to the kids back home, thanks to Skype.  Bayla always says, "mommy, I love you really much" and Brinley said she had a frog in her neck...(translation: her throat was bothering her).  Blake, Brianna and Lidia all sounded great.  Mike is doing an awesome job!!!
Tomorrow is our last day here...then an early flight out on Wed morning.  It will take 3 flights to get us home...about 22-23 hours of travel.
Enjoy the pictures.  Love to all...

We were privileged to get to visit Tianjin School for Deaf Children.  This is Ben's school where he boarded Mon-Fri every week.  It is a beautiful new facility.  Ben has looked at these pictures over and over again.  He had many good relationships here.  These are the kids that he loved, and the teacher that he loved.  It was a day filled with laughter and tears.

We got there just in time for Ben to join the group for the morning exercise routine

This precious little girl had made a card for ME!   The whole class worked hard for days...each one of them had a gift or card or work of art to give to Ben.  The half day that we spent there was beyond amazing. 

Ben's teacher signing to the class.  Everyone was just SO excited that we were there.

The school's director came into the room and presented Ben with a few momentos from the school.  He was a delightful man that cared for Ben very much.  He was signing to him how he is going to his new home in America...by the way the sign for America is the same as ours

Ben's had put a few of the pictures I sent him underneath a plastic overlay on the top of his desk...the other pictures he had given away to his friends, along with most of what I sent him in the care packages.  It was very sweet of him to give his belongings to others.

Ben's classmates

Ben's sweet, sweet teacher...she cried when she had to say good bye

Ben was really king for a day...the kids just showered him with love and kindness

The school was so nice to let us spend all morning there.  They even invited us to stay for lunch in the cafeteria...so we accepted.  They served sardines (with bones), sticky white rice and some unidentifyable vegetable.  No drink provided except a very salty type of egg drop soup.  Well, Brent's expression says it all !!!!!!!!!!  We contained ourselves and did our best, and showed our appreciation.

The kids loved Brent

His best friend Wu Ye

First airplane ride for Ben !

Ben enjoyed the plane !

Ben's medical visit required by the U.S. Embassy

Waiting to see the doctor...

Many elderly people doing their morning exercises at the park

These women were really working out

Susan getting in on the exercise fun...this woman standing showed her how to use the equipment...she was so cute!

We saw 3 bride & groom couples at the park today

Ben loves animals

This kitty kept Ben busy for a long time !

How cute !

Snake skins...used for natural medicine

Little dried frogs...also used for medicinal purposes

These are pics of some food choices at a restaurant...you just pick out which one you want and they will prepare it for you.

What are THESE???

Some live crabs awaiting their destiny...their little eyes looking around

Lots of food choices !

Puppies for sale in the streets...how adorable!

Imagine thousands of apartment buildings...tall buildings as far as you can see.  This is what most of them look like.

Blake look...Papa John's Pizza !

Seaweed anyone???  Going to the supermarket is so interesting here...

Ben LOVES the pool...he does NOT know how to swim.  With the 2 rings, he was pretty self-sufficient.

Having fun !

Brent enjoying the pool !

Took the picture this morning... police were practicing for the mourning ceremony this afternoon.  We eat breakfast overlooking the Pearl River, and saw many boats and about 6 helicopters flying overhead. 

One of the many pretty areas of our hotel...looks like a postcard, doesn't it?

The beautiful White Swan Hotel

At 2:28 p.m. today all of China stopped in their tracks and stood still to honor the people who perished from the earthquake.  It's been exactly a week since the tragedy.  For 3 minutes, nobody moved anywhere.  We stood with them...and cried.  The government is mandating 3 days of mourning...which includes no entertainment of any kind.  This is the sign posted outside of the billiard room here at the hotel.  The boys were disappointed because they wanted to play pool, but they understood the reason.  The newspapers are saturated with articles and pictures everyday...heart-breaking pictures of children lost. 

goofing around at one of the stores

Update for today...

Today we went to complete more paperwork...first the police dept, then the notary office.  Then we took a taxi to the orphanage, where we met up with Robert and the Gour family.  Together we all went out to lunch.  Robert took us to a local restaurant he likes and we spent hours in great conversation.  He's a great guy and I'm very appreciative for his efforts at the orphanage.  He also had found some more pictures of Ben which was great.  Ben is probably around 6 yrs old in the pics.  Brent and Ben were so bored while we had lunch.  We were in a private room at the restaurant, so they probably felt confined with nothing to do... well, it was around 2.5 hours!
Tomorrow we are going to the deaf school.  Ben will get to see his teacher again and also his 2 good friends.  I'm wondering how that will be for him, having to say his final goodbye.  After that, we are going to see his finding spot.  Then after that, we will visit ancient culture street.  Then Friday....fly to Guangzhou!
Well, tired and going to bed now.

I thought this building looked like a church...but the guide said it wasn't

Cool !

Women wear scarves over their faces when riding their bikes

Welcome sign at front of orphanage

Chelsea, Paul and their new daughter Claire

Ben & Robert


May 13, 2008... Ben's official date of adoption

Let me start by saying that our hearts are broken for all the lost lives here in China from the massive earthquake.  What a tragedy for so many thousands of families.  We also felt a "sway" here in Tianjin, but there are no problems here.  May God give peace to the hurting people...
Today was actually a very nice day here... it was sunny and warm, a nice welcome after the cold rainy days we've had.  After breakfast we went to the civil affairs office, then the notary office, then Walmart (very fun), then lunch, then to the orphanage which was amazing.  We are now in the room waiting for room service to bring our dinner and we've been playing soccer in the room and other games.  Ben is VERY playful!  He has a great sense of humor...he's a great kid and he and Brent are 2 peas in a pod.  He fits in with us perfectly...just like God planned.  The orphanage visit was so wonderful.  It was super clean and well stocked with toys and brightly decorated painted walls.  The kids all looked very clean, with nice clothes, shoes and the girls with their hair done so cute.  We passed out a big bag candy that I brought to a bunch of younger kids at the orphanage.  They loved it
and just smiled ear to ear to see us and to hug on us.  One of them even tried to give Susan some of her own candy...so sweet.  Ben loved to show us around.  The
orphanage director is amazing... nice, sweet, outgoing, and she gave a little ceremony for us and the other families that were adopting to show her thanks to us for
bringing China's children into our families.  There were 7 families total at the ceremony and together we represented 4 different countries.  It was very nice.  The director adores Ben, and so does all the staff at the orphanage.  They all stroke his face and hug him.  Ben had no problem saying goodbye to everyone...he wasn't sad...he seems ready to move on to his new life.  Ben is officially ours and he is really at ease.  All of our adopted children have transitioned so wonderfully...we are really so blessed. 
Here are some pictures of our trip to the civil affairs office, the orphanage, and misc.  We are having a blast together! 
Tomorrow we leave the hotel early again to go back to the civil affairs office, then the police station, then we are having lunch with Robert, the American man who has volunteered at the orphanage since 2000 and has known Ben since then.  I'm really looking forward to that.  On Thursday we are going to go visit the school for the deaf that Ben attended.  There Ben will say goodbye to his good friends and teachers.  We will pass out more candy.  That will be the last day that he will see his sweet teacher.  That might be difficult, as I think she is the most bonded with him, and obviously loves him.  Today we got a gift for her.  She and I have been comparing Chinese and American sign language.  She is amazing.  By the way, Bo & Glenda... there ARE some signs that are the same as ours!  After we visit the school, we will go visit Ben's finding place...where he was found at the estimated age of 2 1/2 years old. 
By the way, I cannot see my blog because I'm blocked from viewing it while in China, so I'm posting remotely...not sure how it looks, so keep that in mind.  
Signing off for now...
love to all

Ben's sign language teacher accompanying us for the day...Susan and I agreed that she looks like a Chinese Meryl Streep...she's tall, graceful & softspoken