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!

We're so excited for Brent...

Brent has been interested in joining the Navy when he gets older. He'll be 14 in about 4 months. He was navigating around on the Navy website, and discovered that there is a Navy program called Navy Sea Cadets, for teenagers up to the age of 17. We checked it out and this is a superb program for young adults who are interested in learning about the Navy, self-discipline and military skills and drills. There are 4 drill centers in NC, and we're only 35 min away from the one in Charlotte. We visited yesterday and also attended the banquet. Brent was SO thrilled and wanted to sign up, so we did! He spent the weekend at the drill center, as this is what he will do every few weeks (spend the weekend there). He'll be learning many things and he will also be completing required courses. He'll go to a 2 week boot camp in early June (out of state). He has a lot ahead of him. If he's still interested in joing the Navy when he's older, he'll go in as an E3 if he is an accomplished Navy Sea Cadet. That'll put him ahead about a year & a half. One cadet we met is soon traveling to Australia on a 2 week assignment. There's also exchange cadet programs with other countries. We don't know everything about it yet...but one thing we do know is this, we are very proud of him and he seems to be in his glory !!

Briella's been home 4 months today..

November 22, 2009
I decided to take a little photo shoot of Briella. She's such a lovely young lady, home only 4 months and it feels like she's been here forever. Here's some fun facts about Briella... her english is outstanding (already), she's very smart, she's kind to others and loves to smile, she loves school, she likes to write in mandarin with Ben, she loved being on a soccer team w/Lidia & Ben, she learned how to swim, if I blow dry her hair - she giggles the whole time, she trys all new foods (and likes everything),the battery toothbrush that I sent in her care package to China got used by all the girls at the orphanage!, she learned how to swing on a swingset...very cautious at first...then giggled like crazy learning how...and now she's a pro, she loves going to church, she loves her grandma's and grandpa's, she's learned how to pick out a new outfit everyday (in China, she wore the same clothes for many days, and she had no clothes of her own or a dresser), she still needs to learn how to ride a bike, she's taught Brinley and Bayla some chinese children's songs (so cute!) and she loves when I kiss her on her forehead or cheek. She smiles real big when she gets a kiss & told me that nobody had ever kissed her before in China. No wonder she giggles and smiles when she gets a kiss :o)
She is such a gift to our family.

~~~ Summer Fun ~~~

Here's a little slide show of our summer... we're making memories !!!

Coming Home...

Briella Xiyao was so excited to come home! She loved the flights and had plenty of energy, even after such a long 30 hour trip. Mike and the kids showed up at the airport at midnight to welcome us. What a wonderful memory for our family :o)

Bittersweet Goodbye

Although we are having a wonderful time in Guangzhou, tomorrow will be our last day here. Since everything went so well with the chest x-ray, I called the consulate Monday morning and they agreed to move our appt up 2 days (today!). This means we are going home two days early. Lidia's a little disappointed since we've met such nice families here & made friends. There's a lot to do here and it is pretty relaxing, I admit. But Mike and the other kids need us at home and I miss everyone. So tomorrow is our last day. We'll go to the swearing in ceremony in the afternoon at the embassy, then we'll get her visa to come home. We'll leave the hotel Wednesday at 6 am and take a flight to Beijing. Then from there we'll fly to Chicago, and then on to Charlotte. That's a little over 20 hrs actually in the air, not including the 2 layovers. We're flying stand-by again, but the seat availability looks pretty good & it'll be so great if we get to ride in business class again. That really makes a difference on a long trip. Thanks again Kim & Jeff !!!!

Can't wait to see all my other kiddos and give everyone a huge hug! Briella is so excited about going home. Today she said "America Wednesday" to a shopkeeper. She is so well adjusted - I can't believe we have been so blessed yet again to receive a child that so naturally becomes part of our family. She has been simply delightful, happy & smiley. She is talkative and chats with our guide a lot. She also tries to communicate in English and does quite well. By the way, she's a wiz at math... been testing her on different math problems, and she gets them all perfect... and fast. At one shop, she added up in her head what she thought our total was, and before the shopkeeper used his calculator to add up our items (about 14 items), she told him what she thought it was. Well, she was off by 12 Yuan (their dollar). Turns out there was 1 item stuck in the bottom of the basket that she hadn't seen and it was exactly the difference.

Tomorrow morning will be my last chance to email, as I am packing up the laptop and mailing it off to Nancy's brother who lives back in Briella's province. It is for him, but I've had the privilege of using it while in China. Thanks Nancy!!!

Well, can't wait to see everyone... we're supposed to arrive in Charlotte about 9:45 Wednesday night, about 27 hrs after we step foot on our first flight. I can't wait to see Mike & the kids at the airport. Here are some pics... hugs to all

Briella and our guide Sarah, who took good care of us!

Lidia standing in an underground tomb of an emporer buried 2,000 yrs ago

Octopus for sale at local Walmart

Maybe your in the mood for sting-ray instead?

Such little parking space - so they have double stacked parking

Last year while I was here for Ben, the terrible earthquake happened - this time we had a typhoon that landed ashore this province, but thank goodness I don't think there were any injuries

Fun in the streets!

Inside our beautiful hotel

Photo op!

At Lucy's Diner - wonderful western food. Briella says "hamburger please"!

Dinner with new friends

Out on the town

Happy, thankful, and having fun!

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

We arrived last night to our final city here and checked in to The White Swan Hotel... as beautiful as ever. The flight was short and pleasant and Briella was thrilled, especially during take-off and landing. Lidia loves it here in Guangzhou! We've met many families here that are from the states and have had lots of fun with them, walking, shopping and then going to dinner with another family. Their son reminds me so much of Brent. They adopted a 10 yr old girl that was just so scared and we could see her quietly weeping. Briella became friendly with her and they became friends, just chattering away in Mandarin. That is the family we had dinner with and it was a good time. I believe Briella really helped her to feel more comfortable.

The GREAT news is...... Briella had all her medical evaluations this morning and her chest x-ray was perfect. This is great news and means that her positive TB skin test was a false positive from her previous vaccination. Yay! She will now be granted a visa to come home. She also had 4 vaccinations and not a flinch. She has had a perfect transition so far... she is very sweet, playful, shy at first, smart, and confident. She has not shed one tear the whole time. She's already learning some English words.

Here are some things on the agenda for the next few days... paperwork, a museum trip, our consulate appt, swearing in ceremony, the zoo, and getting her visa to come home. We are fitting in a little shopping, swimming, and visiting. A few of the shop owners remember me from previous visits.

Love to all of my kiddos back home and thanking God for all of my blessings

On the way to the airport. Lidia has small hands... Briella's are TINY

1st airplane ride was a big hit!

Beautiful sunset above the clouds

A new boat for Mike.... well, it IS bigger!

Breakfast at The White Swan Hotel... one of the best amenities here

4 shots and a chest x-ray equals a clean bill of health!

Briella did so well with all the medical stuff, including 4 trips to the hospital in her province

Lidia sewing some little silk pouches at a local shop

Time Together

We are really enjoying seeing different things in this province. We took a trip by car, about 3.5 hours away, and looked around Briella's hometown area. It was rainy and overcast, but we had fun. We had local food on the way down, and then more Chinese food later for dinner with some of the adoption officials. Lidia did very well with the food (better than me!) and we had a good time. It was nice for Briella to see her town once more and capture some pictures and memories. Last night after we got settled back at our previous hotel, Briella and I went down to the pool. She has never been in a pool and just stayed in the kiddie pool the whole time. She loved it. We don't have the same room as last time, so now we have a lake view room and it is very pretty at night. This morning we went for a long walk all around the lake that is here at the hotel. So VERY hot and humid!!!!!!!! We leave in a half an hour to go back to the hospital to get the result of the TB test. Briella continues to do very well with the transition. She is happy and sweet. Her personality is very easy going. At the pool, she showed me how she counts well in English... she counted to about 50. She's not the show-off type so she probably knows more than she shows. She really likes running and volleyball. Well, signing off for now. Here are some pics... love to everyone back home... I miss you!!

Briella when she was younger

Briella when she was younger

Lidia and Briella at a restaurant in her town

Lidia can pick up a peanut with chopsticks!

Having fun at the restaurant

Enjoying our time on the boardwalk in Briella's hometown of Xiamen

Making the best of a l-o-n-g care ride!

Very happy to try the pool for the 1st time

So tiny! Bathing suit is a 7-8 & fits perfect - she's 11!!

The heat index is about 100 degrees! The pool is a great place to be

Walking around the lovely lake with our guide Helen

Beautiful area!

Great photo op!

A beautiful lotus flower