Thursday, May 9, 2013

Family of Five

We have really been enjoying our time since we got home. Simeon has been fighting an ear infection since before we left Taiwan, but appears to be better. Everyone was sleeping really well at night from the first day back (I credit this to God's grace and our LONG trip with little sleep at LAX). We were blessed by friends who brought us meals our first couple weeks home - it was a huge relief to me that I didn't have to worry about getting  a meal ready each night.

Simeon  is walking all over the place now and has been to two of Elisha's soccer games. He's met almost all of his grandparents, but I still need to get pictures with everyone. Below are some pictures of the last few weeks. We are blessed.

At the soccer game

Four generations

Having big brothers is a good thing. :)

Simeon's room

Saturday, April 20, 2013


We are blessed.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

On our last day in Taiwan, we were able to go to a Chinese Culture Village near LuoDong. There were different shops with various handmade items (woodworking, candy, toys, glass, pottery, etc.). There was also a 130-year-old Chinese house turned into a museum there.

Eating a tang hulur like Little Pear (in the book by Eleanor Lattimore)

The front entrance of the 130-year-old home

One of the exhibits


Feeding the ducks and fish one more time at the lake near The Home of God's Love

Going on a walk with Mama Bev

Saying good-bye to Showhwa (who took care of Elisha as a baby)

Taipei Airport - ready to go

Everyone did well on the 12-hour flight to Los Angeles. We made it through customs and then immigration (where we turned in our paperwork so Simeon can become a United States citizen). We rechecked our bags and went through security, then looked for our gate. It was at that point (10:30 pm) that we realized our flight to Chicago was cancelled due to bad weather. We spent the next couple hours rebooking a new flight (for 7 am), trying to figure out if we needed to get our luggage and check it for our new flight, and go back through security. A kind airport worker got us some blankets and another kind stranger showed us to a quite place where we could sleep. The boys were tired and disappointed to be sleeping on the floor, but they took it really well. By this time it was 1:00 am, but before bed Elisha even prayed, thanking God for a long list of ways He had blessed us. 


 After a 3-hour flight, we were greeted at the airport by Donnie's family and one of my good friends.

The drive home from the airport

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


As of yesterday afternoon we have Simeon's immigration approval and will be able to return home as scheduled, all five of us together. All the boys have colds, two with fevers, so we would appreciate your prayers for the 29 hour trip home. We are so blessed to be on this journey and to have these three amazing sons.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cijin Island and other adventures

We started our day Tuesday by heading out on our own (Taiwan Xi En is letting us use one of their vehicles and we both got our international driver's licenses). We went to the 10 NT store (approximate translation: 30 cent store, apparently the Taiwanese equivalent to Dollar General), the grocery store, and the morning market. At the morning market we saw lots of whole fish and chickens and squid and frogs in a mesh bag still jumping around. Judah did not appreciate the smell, but Donnie was able to buy some interesting fruit at the stalls next to the meat market so it was worth the trip.

After Simeon's nap we ran some more errands with Holly - going to the bank to exchange money, picking up the papers that registered Simeon's adoption in Taiwan (they have to wait to register the adoption until we arrive so that we can meet him first, this is due to US laws), and to the baby store to buy more formula, another bottle, etc. This picture is from the bank (I was waiting in line to exchange the money).

There is a little bike at the House of Hope where we are staying and Simeon loves riding it. The latest game is that he has to pay a toll to his older brothers who block his way (he smacks their hand to pay the toll).

Donnie and I were surprised to find out that pineapples do not grow on trees. We were not surprised to find that fresh grown pineapples are amazingly delicious. Other fruit we have tried so far (we think): sugar apple, mango, wax apple (bell fruit), and pear. We bought an apple this morning at a market stall (Judah's request) only to find that the sticker on it said it was grown in the USA. Ha ha.

Donnie is continuing his role as "best dad in the whole world." He and Simeon love to play together. Here they are dancing after the other boys were in bed.

On Wednesday we were able to go to Cijin Island with another family who ministers at Taiwan Xi En. We rode a ferry to get there (only scooters were on the ferry with us, no cars), shopped at a couple tourist shops, and ate lunch at a seafood restaurant. The fish we ate was caught at 4:30 am that morning. We all agreed that it was delicious.

Elisha and Judah were able to swim in the ocean for the first time. It was definitely the highlight of their day, possibly the highlight of the trip so far for them (other than loving on Simeon, of course). The sand on the beach was black (and surprisingly soft). We are told that this is because Taiwan used to be a volcanic island, although I have not googled this information to verify it. :) I think the crab statue is cool

After playing in the ocean and finding shells, we trekked over to a historic light house and fort that are on the island. The boys were troopers and we were all exhausted by the time we got back to the car. This is a picture looking back over the bay and Kaohsiung City.

After resting back at the house for a little while, we headed over to the housing complex where some of the Taiwan Xi En staff live. There is a playground there and the boys had fun shooting baskets and running around.

The best part, though, was when we heard some music playing. We thought it might be an ice cream truck, but it was actually the garbage truck. All the people at the apartments ran out with their trash containers to load it into the truck when it arrived. Elisha and Judah were thrilled (they love watching for the trash truck at home, so this was a special treat).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Taiwan - Day 2 and 3

On Sunday we visited Lotus Lake, one of the main tourist attractions in Kaohsiung. Our friends, Ashleigh and Sara ( the ones who would keep Simeon on weekends and holiday breaks), were nice enough to do a family photo shoot. I don't have the pictures, yet, but am excited to see how they turned out. The older boys enjoyed seeing the turtles and fish and large birds at the lake, going through a tunnel shaped like a dragon, and climbing to the top of a pagoda. We hung out at House of Hope in the afternoon (we are staying in their guest room), then went to a bilingual southern baptist church with the Hatchers. Ashleigh left Monday morning for a mission trip to China, so we were so happy we got to spend Sunday with her.

Monday morning we stayed at the house. In the afternoon we were able to meet Simeon's birth mom and grandma. It was a huge blessing to be able to meet them and ask questions about what his birth mom was like as a child, how she decided to name him his Chinese name, etc. That night we went to the E-Da Mall, which I read is the second largest mall in Asia. We decided not to ride the giant Ferris wheel on the roof, but enjoyed walking around, eating Subway for supper, and getting gelato for dessert.

Ashleigh is an expert at getting Simeon to sleep

They have angry birds in Taiwan!

E-Da Mall ferris wheel


Simeon was not a fan.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The moment we've all been waiting for...


Flying Out

The boys did awesome at the airports and on the airplanes.

St. Louis Airport

Flight #1 - Avengers coloring books and happy boys! :)

Los Angeles Airport

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On Our Way

We are on our way. Fun quotes from today:

I woke the boys at 5 am. The first thing Elisha said was, "Wowie. Wowie zowie. Wowie zowie."

A few minutes later Judah danced in the kitchen, saying, "this is my happy dance, Daddy."

I think those two moments sum up how we are all feeling after 3 1/2 years of praying for this day to come. The boys did great on the first flight and in a couple hours we will be on the way to Taiwan.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It is always darkest...

It has been a rough few weeks. It seemed like each time we talked to someone about the process for renewing our background checks there was an additional mailing and 5-10 days added to the process. In total, the information requests and background check will have been processed and mailed at least 8 different times since February 11. By the end of it, we started to wonder if people were messing with us when they would tell us about some new place it needed to be mailed or a new group who had to process it.

Yesterday's miracle: An immigration case officer e-mailed us our appointment letter (which had allegedly been sent last Wednesday, but has not arrived as of today) and we went immediately to St. Louis.

Why it was miraculous: we had left a message asking the officer assigned to our case if he would e-mail an appointment letter to us a week and a half ago. He didn't respond to our request. In addition, our appointments weren't scheduled for another week, but the St. Louis office saw us anyway.

Today's Miracle: A different case officer took over our case (our case officer is out of town), then sped up our process and finished our background checks today!

Why it was miraculous:  She went out of her way to help us by asking her supervisor to take over our case. It took less than 24 hours to do something we had been told would take 2-4 days.

We booked plane tickets and are leaving next week for Taiwan. Please pray that we are able to get Simeon's visa before we are scheduled to come home (otherwise Simeon and I will have to stay longer in Taiwan). Today's case officer says that the Taiwan office should have everything they need in 1 to 2 weeks. Then it takes 4-5 days for them to process our visa application.

"It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth."
- Thomas Fuller, English theologian, 1650

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Waiting for the Mail

We are spending our days waiting for the mail. We are waiting to get an appointment to get fingerprinted for our immigration application. Once we get fingerprinted, our case manager will review our background checks and send a new immigration approval letter to Taiwan. We have had immigration approval for our adopted child since 2010, but our fingerprints expired this month before we were able to travel.

Please pray that the appointment notice comes soon and that our case officer processes everything quickly. This is the last thing we have to do before we can travel to get Simeon.

Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Good News

We received word today that we are officially Simeon's parents! Taiwan Xi En got the final decree in the mail from the Taiwanese Courts! Praise the Lord!!! They submitted the paperwork to AIT (who will issue Simeon's visa to immigrate to the USA) and we will hear from them soon about our appointment (which will determine when we travel).

We are also waiting to find out if we will be able to travel as soon as possible or if we will need to get fingerprinted again for Simeon's immigration application.

Please pray. Please pray that God will work something out so we can travel as soon as possible. Please pray that we will have peace in the meantime.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart 
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Initial Decree

Praise the Lord! Last night we got word from Taiwan Xi En that they received our initial decree from the courts (exactly 15 weeks after our court date). We also decided last weekend that we are going to take both our older boys with us to Taiwan. Please pray that we receive the final decree soon (we expect to get it in the next 10 to 40 days, but you never really know) and that God gives us grace as we travel.

Isaiah 64:4
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chinese New Year

We celebrated Chinese New Year last weekend with chicken fried rice and dumplings, reading some Chinese children's books, and a dragon parade around the house.

In Taiwan the courts are closed all of this week for the holiday. We heard from His Hands this week that adoption cases are taking (significantly) longer since the new laws have been implemented. This means that we have no estimate of when Simeon will be home (we are praying for March). It has been 14 weeks since our court date and we have not received our initial decree. Prior to the new laws families would get their initial decree 6 to 8 weeks after the court date. Please pray that the judge, social worker, and other government officials will process Simeon's case soon so we can bring him home! You can also pray that we have the patience of the Lord and His peace as we wait. We continue to thank God daily that Simeon is receiving such good care by the nannies and aunties at His Hands.

Psalm 121:1-2
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I've been listening to this song a lot lately. There are several versions on youtube. Waiting to hear back from the court has been hard. And so I am looking for God's mercies in it all.

lyrics by Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise 

Monday, February 4, 2013


We haven't gotten any news about the court case, but we did get some new pictures today. Simeon is doing well. He started clapping and cruising along the furniture in the last couple weeks.