Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer Recap & 5 Months Since Adoption Day

I've had 10+ blog ideas over the past 2 months and just can't force myself to forego sleep to update the blog! These are my thoughts from the past 2 months. We are slowly breaking ourselves out of the "adoption cocoon." We've had a lot of fun - and some growing pains too. We're all growing in some form or fashion. I've been amazed by Hannah's progress in her language and in her relationship with us and her brothers. The boys have been so sweet and helpful.

Summer English School
We committed the month of June to helping Hannah at ESL camp. We did not commit to anything else as a family. We were thankful to have a sweet friend stay with the boys every morning, so that I could stay with Hannah. Auburn City Schools organized the ESL camp for all of the international kids in the community. There were kids from all over the world learning English together. 3 hours a day for the entire month. I stayed with Hannah a lot, and slowly backed off towards the end of the month. I think she did well. She learned a lot about the basics of school - sitting in a desk, following instructions, playing with other kids, listening to the teacher, finishing a task, sharing, giving other kids privacy in the bathroom (seriously!), etc. These were all foreign concepts to her. Her English skills improved as well.
I love Auburn Schools and their ESL program!!

There were some struggles as well. Hannah was on sensory overload. All of the lights and noises and people were very overwhelming to her. The teachers and aids were very patient and helpful to her. She was exhausted when the day was done. Her brain seemed to be overworked.

We committed 5 weeks to "summer homeschool." We have been working on 1 letter of the alphabet every day. Each day, we would focus on 1 letter - go on a hunt for objects that begin with letter, handwriting that letter, eating a snack that has that letter, and making a craft based on that letter. Today was the letter R. We went to the flower nursery and counted all the different "Red" flowers. It's been a lot of fun! Even little Elijah said "I want to do our school stuff."

We also committed to swim lessons for Hannah and Elijah. The water has been extremely calming for Hannah.

We had a good visit at the UAB Adoption Clinic for a follow-up. The therapist gave us some good direction regarding school for Hannah.

We decided to enroll Micah at a local Christian school for Kindergarten. I am fighting back the tears even now as I write this. This was a big decision for us. We waffled back and forth between homeschool, private and public for the loooongest time. This school seems to be the best fit for us this year. We will re-evaluate again next year.

Hannah's awesome teacher, also a friend from church.
Only the Lord could work out these details!!!
Second Grade
We decided to put Hannah in public school. It was a difficult decision for us, mainly because of our desire to build a stronger relationship with her. But as we searched through all of the facets of her
needs, and our needs as a family, we are certain public school is best for her. She is receiving so much support from the ESL teacher, the Special Ed teachers and her peers. Everyone has been so accommodating and helpful. I've always had the idea in mind that I would homeschool, but it is free-ing to trust the Lord with the unseen.

We've found that boundaries have helped with so many of Hannah's behavioral issues. If we don't set boundaries, life gets completely out of control. There has been a void of loving discipline in Hannah's life, and I think the boundaries help with security and her anxiety.
  • Social boundaries - we wave to strangers; shake friends' hands; hug family
  • Time boundaries - There are certain times when we are quiet; when we can be loud; when we rest; when we play
  • Talking boundaries - We play a game at dinner time called "The Talking Tie." Each person wears a necktie for 1 minute (set a timer) and only that person can talk. Take turns with the necktie.
  • Good behavior/Bad behavior boundaries - Our reward system. Each child has an empty jar and gets 1 pom-pom ball for good behavior. (ie helping each other; no meltdowns; doing chores) A ball must be removed for bad behavior. 10 balls gets you a prize in Mama's treasure box.
  • Respect boundaries - "No touch" things that do not belong to you; no interrupting when Mama and Daddy are talking; use your words instead of having a meltdown to get what you want; no touching other peoples special belongings
  • Privacy boundaries - enough said :)

Some other family milestones
Micah's First Day of Kindergarten
  • Hannah lost a tooth (the first one with us; the first one she is able to keep!)
  • Elijah is out of his crib. Tears. After getting his chubby legs stuck in between the bars and having awful bruises, I figured it was time.
  • Micah is reading!
  • Our first grocery store outing with Hannah, and our first outing to eat at a friends house. Both were successful with no meltdowns!!!
  • Todd and I had our first date night since before we went to China, and the kids did great with Granny

So we've definitely come a long way in 5 months! We are slowly getting into a groove. We still have some really difficult moments. There are still a lot of tears. There is still a lot of frustration. There is still a lot of misunderstanding. Outings are still difficult if Todd is not with me. But I can usually understand what's going on now when there is a meltdown. We have built enough trust and Hannah has learned enough English that we can communicate better.

Hannah is beginning to dream for herself. She has hope. She is beginning to blossom. What a privilege to dream big with her. What a ride, this journey called adoption. I'm so thankful for God's grace that has sustained us. I'm so thankful for coffee and chocolate. I'm so thankful for our family and friends.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Happy 2 months, Hannah!

Dear Hannah,

Congrats! You've survived 2 months as a Pate. I bet you didn't think you'd make it this far with these crazy folks and this crazy food. Yes, we love to put cheese on everything. Yes, Southern Baptists love donuts. That's right, Mama does not like to talk before I have my coffee. I know, it is strange that we play outside all day and catch bugs and play in the mud. And that boys can run around without their shirts, but it's not ok for girls - insanity! It is pretty amazing that we can put our clothes in a machine and they automatically get clean. You don't have to hand wash anymore! I think you're starting to catch on to American life, and the Pate life.

I long for the day when we can talk to you about these things.

You made it through your first day of ESL camp! You did so great. You played with other kids. You sat still and listened to the teacher. You even shared your snack with another girl. I never thought I'd see food leave your hand to give to another person. You even didn't snatch the donuts off the table! You didn't cry or get frustrated! I hope school today was a much better experience than your school in China. I'm sorry those kids were so mean to you in China. I'm sorry they didn't give you another chance. You are so smart. You are so determined.

Watching a movie with brothers.
You got everyone a pillow
and blanket.
Once in a blue moon, you don't eat your meal, and you start crying. And I finally figured out today what's going on. You are scared that if you don't eat at that moment, that you might not see food again. I said "it's ok if you don't eat" ... the tears immediately stopped and you smiled. Hooray for smiles. Mama is starting to understand a little better. Yes, sweetie, there will be food for you tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

Family of Five!

I am so sorry that people look at me, and then you, and then they do a double take. I am so sorry that people look on you with pity. I am sure it feels awkward and strange and you're probably wondering "why are they looking at me like that?"

I hope that one day you will learn to connect with other Chinese people. Right now, it seems as though you don't really care to speak to Chinese people. That's ok if you don't.

We are praying for your heart, Hannah. Your heart is so hard sometimes, and other times so fragile. I pray that you will grow into a confident and selfless woman who loves Jesus more than anything else this world has to offer. There is nothing greater than knowing that we are loved by Almighty God and that He created us for His glory. God had a purpose when He made you. God has a plan for you today and for your future.

We are so glad to be your family.

Love, Mama and Daddy

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Get me out of this cocoon!

Well, things seem to be getting a little better around here. We're slowly starting to break out of our cocoon shell. We've been to church together, had some play dates and having more friends come to the house. We still keep our visits short, but we are thankful for the little bit of time around friends and family. We are so thankful for our friends and family that have been extremely helpful and understanding. Getting out does us a lot of good, but we cross into over-stimulation very quickly. Over-stimulation for Hannah means more tantrums and frustration. I am ready for us all to be back in church again, and for Todd and I to go on a date, and to be able to run an errand with the kids...but we are not there yet. Hopefully soon!

We are communicating more with Hannah, and she is getting into our family rhthym. It's pretty amazing to see the wheels turn in her brain. She has learned so much in 6 weeks! She is constantly practicing her English on us. She's also learning, the hard way, that temper tantrums are not the way to get what you want in our house. I feel sad for Hannah, that for 10 years, she's had to scream at the top of her lungs to get her needs met. [I feel so sorry for our neighbors too that have heard it every day]

Some funny communication moments:
- The Chinese word for noodles sounds like "mean"... when the boys say "you are being mean"...Hannah points to the noodles.
- The Chinese word for rice sounds like "fun"...when we say "are you having fun?" ....she points to the rice
- Hannah has a hard time distinguishing between the "b" and "p" sound. It's pretty funny to help her learn the difference between "I have a boo boo" and "I need to go poo poo."

We are still struggling lots of Hannah's emotions mid-morning. For some reason, there's an emotional switch that gets turned on around 10:00 a.m. It doesn't matter where we are, what we're doing/not doing, what we've eaten or what we're playing with, there will be tears. I've started keeping a meltdown log, trying to find some kind of pattern to help us figure out what we can do different. I pulled out a daily calendar with pictures, to help her see what I have planned for the day. It seems to help when she's not blindsided by a new activity.

Personally, this week has been better than last. I've been overwhelmed by all of the needs of the family and the house. There is usually at least 1 child that is unhappy at all times. I've had to learn to be o.k. with my children being disappointed. I've never been a morning person, but lately I've been waking up way too early with a lot of anxiety about the day. I'm learning to trust God with my day and with my family. I'm learning to pour out my heart to God like David did in the Psalms. I'm learning to let a lot of things go. It's really hard to live by faith. I prayed for joy this morning and it's amazing to see how God flooded my heart with His joy.

Institutionalization has some pretty scary effects. I fear the worse for Hannah. I fear autism or Aspergers for her. I am praying that the things I see will improve over time and that I am wrong.

The kids are screaming for me right now...back to Mama's work.....

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why We Are in "Cocoon Mode"

Our relationship with Hannah is #1 priority right now. She has no sense of relational boundaries. We are helping her establish what is normal for life, and our family in particular. And honestly, I don't want to deal with emotional meltdowns in public.

For our family and friends here in Auburn:
  • When you meet Hannah, please only shake her hand. No hugging. No lap sitting. We're teaching her about friends/family/strangers.
  • Don't take it personal if you don't see us for awhile.
  • If you stop by, please only come 1 or 2 at a time. Hannah gets very overstimulated.
  • If you want to give gifts, please give it to me first, and I will give it to her.

1 Month Since Gotcha Day

I cannot believe it's been a month since we met Meiqi Hannah in China. We've been home for 2 weeks. Today was a really hard day for us. I am seeing just how difficult it is for Hannah to deal with loss and grief. A neighbor took the boys to church for a few hours, and I was hoping to get some good one-on-one "fun time" with Hannah but it ended up being a sad morning for her (and me!). She saw the boys leave, in our van with our neighbor. She cried for atleast an hour. I don't know if it's because she felt left out, or she didn't understand that the boys, and the van would be coming back soon. I pray for compassion and understanding. But it's been a struggle for me. It was a frustrating morning. I couldn't help but think "Be grateful that you I am here with you!" [I know, it sounds heartless and selfish on my part]

I've had to ask for a lot of forgiveness lately from the Lord. I've never been on my knees in prayer so much, as I have been the past month. Begging for help. Begging for compassion. Begging for His love to flow through me. Begging for a thankful attitude. Begging for forgiveness at my anger at the life he's called me to. I ask Him why, God, have you called me to this? Why, God, is this so difficult? Why can't I have an easy life? And then I realize that I am throwing the same kind of temper tantrum that my wild 10 year old throws. And I hear God say "Kim, be grateful for all that I've done for you. "

I can choose to be thankful, or I can choose to have a rotten attitude. I can choose to trust God. I can choose to believe promises. I can choose to trust God, rather than my emotions. I can choose to view my children as blessings, rather than intrusions. I can choose to not allow my 10 year old's wild emotions control me.

I probably should've asked Todd write a post today. He's usually a lot more positive than I am. He's a "cup-half-full" kind of guy.

Here are some things I am choosing to be thankful for in my children:

- Hannah's bloodwork came back normal. We've been a little nervous about anything infectious being spread around.
- I am done taking Hannah's stool samples!!
- Hannah and Elijah have taken to each other pretty well. She pushed him on the swing and helped him get dressed yesterday.
- I can see God using Hannah's tears to help the boys become more compassionate. They say "Why is she crying again? Is she ok?"
- Hannah chose to read a bible story book for the first time last night! It was an honor and blessing to show her Jesus on the cross. I told her Jesus says "Wo Ai Ni, Meiqi Hannah" [I love you, Meiqi Hannah]
- I am proud of Micah and his patience with Hannah. If she does something to aggravate him, he just patiently says "No, Hannah."
- We're finally in a good routine each day. Hannah has been playing quietly in her room each afternoon this week, while the boys nap/rest so I can have a little time to myself.
- I am so thankful for my sweet husband, Todd. We've met some single Mom's, also in this journey, and I don't know how they do it. Todd is so helpful, and serving, and patient, and a good sounding board for me.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our First Week Home

We have survived our first week home with Hannah!!! It has been a tough week. We're thankful it's behind us. I've never wiped so many tears in my life, or made so much food in my life. Usually at least 1 child is crying, sometimes two, or all three. Micah and Elijah have had a tough time re-adjusting to Mama and Daddy. Mama and Daddy are still grumpy from jet-lag. And Hannah, bless her heart, doesn't know her up from down. I feel like we brought another newborn home (in the sense of exhaustion, crying spells, being busy), but a tall newborn that can get into everything. But each day gets a little better.

We have been so blessed by our friends and family. Granny was here the first couple of days we were home, which helped a lot. Grandmother did a lot of laundry for us. And meals are being brought to us 3x week. And we are so thankful for all of the people praying for us.

I have noticed how hungry Hannah is, in more ways that one....

A Hungry Heart - Her emotions have been very out-of-whack. I dont think she's ever been taught how to manage her emotions. Now it's compounded by having a family that cannot understand what she says. The emotional issues have been, by far, our biggest struggle.

A Hungry Soul - There is a constant need for love and affirmation for a former orphan. Hannah constantly needs TLC. Constant reminders that "We love you. We are not leaving you."

A Hungry Body - I have never seen a child eat so much! She eats at least 2 Raman noodle bowls a day plus whatever we eat.

A Hungry Brain - She is soaking up anything and everything we teach her. She is learning lots of English, the ABC's, colors, counting .... Learning lots about how to play with toys, how to play outside, how to be safe in the kitchen, how to be quiet when others are resting, how to share with her brothers, how to help with family chores (which she loves to do).

Some fun "firsts" this week....
  • First time to play in the yard. She didn't know what to do at first. She made a face that said "huh? you expect me to play in the dirt?"
  • First walk around the neighborhood
  • First ride on the swing in the yard. She giggled and giggled, and then I pushed her too hard and she belly-flopped in the dirt. Woops! Bad Mama.
  • First outing as a family of five. We went swimming at the Opelika Sportsplex. She loved it.
  • First time to play a piano (thank you Macy Maddox)
I have been complaining a lot to God lately ! The hardest thing for me has been to "give up" my afternoon quiet time while the boys nap/rest. Ever since Micah was born 5 years ago, I've protected 1:00 to 3:00 as my time to rest, catch up on personal tasks, etc. I can't do that now (although I am working towards it with Hannah). But God reminded me of what Jim Elliot said "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he can't lose." My time is not really mine to keep. It all belongs to the Lord. When I give away my time and my life to my children, I am storing up treasures in heaven, treasures that will never perish, fade or spoil.

My definition of success, as a Mother, has been challenged as well. God brought to mind Micah 6:8 "What does the Lord require of you? To love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly with your God." If we are learning about how to treat others with mercy and learning how to bring glory to God, than it's a good day for me.

We are planning to stay close to home for the next month or two. We don't mind visitors, we love visitors actually, just not more than a few people at one time. Hannah gets very overwhelmed and over-stimulated, and we're helping her establish what family is.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Week 1 1/2: Orphanage Visit

We were able to visit the orphanage yesterday. This was the first time Meiqi Hannah has been back since our gotcha day last week. She was very nervous. She held my hand tight for the entire drive there. I think she was scared we were bringing her back, although our facilitator told her (in Chinese) we weren't. The orphanage staff were very warm and welcoming. They brought out some fruit and candy for us, talked with us for awhile, and gave us a tour of the facility. Our family was only the 5th or 6th "International" family to adopt from there.

A Small courtyard for kids to play in. Their only outdoor space.
We learned lots of new things about Meiqi Hannah. We learned more pieces of her "lost" history. We learned more about her life as a baby. Some of it was heart-wrenching to hear. They told us some funny stories about her too. Seeing where she spent her first 10 year of her life gives us a much better context about where she is coming from.

When we arrived at the gate, we could not even see the orphanage. It was hidden behind a big fancy apartment building for old folks.

Hidden. The kids are hidden away from society. No one even knows they are there.

The orphanage was very sterile and very plain. There was nothing "soft" or comfortable about it. Nothing homey about it. No carpet or couches or fluffy pillows. Just concrete and beds and a few toys.

No Jesus. No church. No Sunday School. No VBS.


Her orphanage has about 50 kids. About 20 of them are available for adoption.

We were encouraged that Meiqi Hannah was excited to leave with us. That means she has formed a good bond with us this week and that she trusts us. She was proud to show the nanny's our matching necklaces. She was proud to leave with us. She was not upset.

A room full of babies in cribs. Meiqi Hannah shared her candy with all of them.
I think she spent a lot of time helping the Nanny's with these younger kids. 
We are becoming more in tune with our daughter each day. We learn a little more about her, and vice versa. We are learning to laugh more. As Todd says "If we're gonna laugh about it in 5 years, we might as well laugh about it now."

The word "no" is foreign for orphanage kids. They have no concept of boundaries. But Meiqi Hannah has received more loving discipline in 10 days, than I think she has received in 10 years. It is amazing to see the change a child undergoes when she is well loved.
Even tough love!
It is amazing to see the peace that overwhelms her when we pray for her.

Meet Jesus, Meiqi Hannah Pate.

It's also pretty awesome to see how well she is learning English! She's been greeting everyone here "Hello, how are you?"

Ummm, Todd, can we bring another one home?!

Telling the Nanny's Goodbye.
It has been a tough week for us though, I'm not gonna lie. Adoption is a tough journey. It is not for the weary in heart. The enemy has a tight grip on these kids. He does not want them to be loved. He does not want them to hear the Gospel. He wants to keep them locked up, in a communist country, with very little chance of hearing the Gospel. The enemy will do everything in his power to keep families away.

We are sooooo ready to come home!!!!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Week 1: Hope When It Seems Hopeless

10 years of institution life (although not really life)
No Jesus
No Education
No Mother or Father
No Social Skills
No Discipline
No Manners
No Social Skills
No English
Very Little Chinese
New Parents that don't speak any Chinese

Seems pretty hopeless, right?

On the contrary, we're finding hope in this mess!!! We are choosing to embrace this mess. We are seeing change and progress.

Todd and I aren't sure who is being changed more: Meiqi Hannah or us. Todd and I are being pruned and pruned again. God is using Meiqi Hannah to help us become more patient and kind and loving and compassionate. I am experiencing our Pursuing God on a whole new level. Chasing her through the hotel while she pitches a fit reminds me of myself. I pitch fits sometimes too and God always pursues me and reminds me of His love.

First carnival ride
After 5 days of lots of smiles and tears, we are rejoicing that we have made it thus far! In some moments, we are thankful to be surviving, and other moments we are thriving. Some things bring her so much joy, and sometimes she will just cry and cry and cry. But isn't it that way with all of us girls?

We have made a lot of progress in the last 5 days since Meiqi Hannah's "gotcha day." We understand a little more about what she needs and wants (much like a newborn) and she is understanding us a little better as well. She is very smart. But I don't think she's ever had anyone teach her and point her in the right direction.

She has learned the tune to the ABC song; she has learned a good bit of English (she says "hello, how are you, thank you"); she can count to three!; she layed with me in the bed while I read all of "Goodnight Moon" (Im pretty sure that's the first book that ever been read to her); she is making good eye contact with us; she knows to stay close to us when we're out in public; she is comfortable with Todd; and we made it through all of dinner at a restaurant without a meltdown tonight!!!! And she has actually chosen to spend time with us rather than watch the dumb Chinese soap operas.

Auburn fans, you'll appreciate this: for some reason, MH loves to scream out "HEY!" very, very loud. A way to get attention, or a bad habit from the orphanage I guess? So we've taught her instead to say "WAR EAGLE, HEY!" It's also pretty funny to hear her say "hey yall" in her Chinese accent.

First piggy-back ride in the park
 I watched Meiqi Hannah sleep tonight and I wept for her. I wept for her heart. I wept for her soul. I am so sad for her. I am sad for her that her own people cannot care for her, and I am sad that we do not understand most of what she says, or look anything like her. I pray that she does not notice the stares we get from her people. I pray that she will, one day, feel like she fits in somewhere. I weep for the 1 million other kids here too, that may never know the love of a Mommy and Daddy.

We are trusting God with a lot. But we have a big God that can move mountains. We have a big God that made everything in 6 days. We are trusting God for a miracle. We are trusting God that He will breathe life into this lifeless soul.

We are trusting God with the plane ride home (24 hours, ugh!). We are trusting God with life once we get home. I am trusting God for Micah and Elijah's little hearts and their understanding of the changes they will have to endure. I weep for them too. I have been a weepy mess!

First swim in a [chilly] pool. Todd is a good sport!

We have one more week here. I want to soak it all in while I can, because this may be the last time we can. I want Meiqi Hannah to soak it all in as well. As much as I don't want to see underwear hanging out to dry when I look out the Pizza Hut window, I will endure it for Meiqi Hannah. As much as I can't stand Chinese soap operas, I am willing to let her watch them for 1 more week! As much as I cannot stomach noodles for breakfast, I am willing to endure the smells for her sake. As much as I want to go home, I am willing to enjoy this culture for 7 more days.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day's 3 and 4: Big adjustments

The internet and our VPN have been sketchy, so I"m not able to post as much as I would like!

We've had an exciting couple of days. We are learning a lot of Cantonese, and Meiqi Hannah is learning a lot about boundaries, English and love. She's had a lot of firsts: first escalator rides and first time to read a book with an adult (I think). We read a page of "Goodnight Moon" together. She repeated what I read. We've learned, with the help of our translator, that she has no reading and writing skills.

Meiqi Hannah loves baths (3x day!) and eating! Two things, I assume, she's never had much of. As soon as we get back to the room, she jumps in the bath and puts on clean clothes. She eats a noodle bowl (like Raman noodles) every few hours. She carries her backpack around with all of her stuff in it everywhere we go. I think she's afraid of losing it all.

She knows how to test the boundaries. We are learning a lot about sacrificial love.

Please pray for us! Sometimes we are at a loss as to what to do.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 3: Gotcha Day/One Less Orphan!!!!

We have a daughter! She is just precious. Meiqi is no longer an orphan.

 The first thing she did was run to me and hug me and jump into my arms! She squeezed me so tight. I could tell she was a little scared. I could feel her heart racing, but there were a lot of smiles. She didn't want to let go of our hand for quite awhile. She was ok with saying goodbye to her Nanny's.

We spent a lot of time with her Nanny's - getting information about her. They were all very kind and helpful. These two Nanny's have been with Meiqi since she was a baby.

We're still not sure what to call her. The Nanny's had a nickname for her. We're calling her Meiqi Hannah. We originally thought it was pronounced May-Chee, but apparently in her dialect (Cantonese), it is pronounced "May-Kay." We've been calling her "May-Kay Hannah"

Saying Goodbye to the Nanny's
We stopped by the store on the way back, with the help of our guide and picked out some things for her to eat. She wanted to put everything in the cart!! But the guide told her "only one" in Cantonese and she obeyed. She went on the escalator for the first time and loved it. She loved the van ride too. She just kept smiling. We took out some granola bars. She tried a few bites of one, and then wanted mine. So we traded granola bars.

Leaving our exciting shopping trip!

She has been smiling a lot and getting into EVERYTHING! She is very curious. She never stops!

In the first hour of being back in the hotel, she has gone through every drawer, pocket and bag.

We have a little diva on our hands! She has already taken a shower, blow dried her hair, gotten dressed, put on flip flops, DONE HER MAKEUP! with my makeup she found in my bag, painted her finger nails WITH 2 COATS!  And then handed me her dirty clothes and asked me to hand-wash them! O boy!

She loves technology. She has figured out Todd's phone and my Kindle Fire, has both TV's on and goes back and forth between the TV's watching different shows.

She has tried atleast 1 bite of everything in our hotel room!

We were told by the Nanny's that she had a difficult time speaking. She has spoken a little with the guide and has tried to a little with us. We've been doing a lot of hand-signals.

Micah, she does not like bugs or worms :( But she does love junk food as much as you do I think!

She is very thoughtful-she just brought me some tiolet paper to use with my dinner. We're eating noodle bowls in our hotel room. We are all emotionally worn out tonight!

Another family with their new sweet 2 year old

Thanks again, everybody for all of the prayers and support!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 2: Taking It All In

We have nothing planned today until 4:00, which will be a meeting with our guide, to go over everything for the big day tomorrow - Gotcha Day!

We did some exploring of the sights closeby within walking distance. There is a lot to take in! The city is very busy. There is a lot of hustle and bustle. Getting used to city life + Chinese life has made for an overwhelming 24 hours.

While we did some exploring, we saw 3 street beggars who were all severely disabled. One was severely burned and laying on his stomach with a sign that said "fire." Another was severely mamed. The other was very old and blind. My first thought went to the 1 million Chinese orphans, many of whom are severely disabled. Beggin on the street is the orhans fate apart from God's grace intervening in their life. Orphans here don't have job opportunities or families to call for help. They are hopeless.

The weather is muggy, humid and cloudy. It was a little chilly this morning.

Micah, I took this picture for you. Daddy is eating spicy noodles for breakfast!!!

The breakfast buffet is amazing! There is a good mix of American and Chinese food.

There is a beautiful waterfall in the hotel gardens

I am amazed by how beautiful the flowers and plants are here. Guangzhou is on the same latitude as the Florida Keys. It has a very tropical feel.

Happy Easter!

I love the pool! You have to go through the shower and foot pool to get into the pool area. It overlooks the city.


A window washer 30 stories high - with one little rope! Incredible.

A little bread shop across the street.

There is a walkway that goes from the hotel over to some shopping. There are a lot of stores and malls closeby. The mall is beautiful. Lots of fancy shops. There are lots of small shops too. The grocery store is on the 4th floor of the mall.

Day 1: Made it to Guangzhou

Saying goodbye to the boys was pretty tough. Micah is 5 and Elijah is almost 3. Being away from them for this 2 weeks is the most difficult part of this whole process. More so than fundraising or paperwork or traveling or anything else. But God is teaching me a lot about trusting Him with our boys, and learning to trust our family with them. Sometimes is obeying God is just really difficult. If we did not do this, we know we'd be deliberately disobeying God's call on our life. (I'm not saying adoption is God's will for everyone!) We have great family and I'm thankful for their help! There are moments when I am glad we did not bring them, honestly. I think the long flights and the different kinds foods would be tough on them.

We had a looong flight to Seoul, Korea. 16 hours. We love Korean Air. They have very sweet flight attendants, with beautiful hair-do's. They seemed to be very kid-friendly for the families on the flight. The food was good for airplane food. We tried the Korean dish "kimbap" and seaweed soup. Kimbap was good. Seaweed soup not so much.

We had a 4 hour lay-over in Korea. Had some good time to get to know the other families while we waited. I love being surrounded by others who have the same call and passion. There were 4 other families on our flight, also with Lifeline Children's Services.


After 24 hours of travel, WE MADE IT TO CHINA!!! It feels good to be closer to Meiqi Hannah, even though we won't get to meet her for another 36 hours or so. Our guide spoke with the orphanage today to check on her, and they said "she is healthy and happy."

I was welcomed to China
with a squatty potty! I was not expecting to see one in the airport.

We had a quick and rainy trip from the airport to the hotel.
1 other family is here with us this week, and thirteen other families will connect with us next week. Our agency, Lifeline, does a great job of helping us get everywhere we need to go. Our guide, Miko, met us at the airport and arranged for a driver to bring us to our hotel. We got a schedule for our next 2 weeks. We have some fun things planned.
Our hotel, The Garden Hotel, is very beautiful and very large. It is also very modern. There are fresh flowers and plants everywhere. It is a Five Star hotel. There is no way we could afford this in America!!
Those are real!

Our first dinner in China was delicious! BBQ pork, rice with goose(!) and some kind of vegetable.
I forgot my fork. I'm having to learn quick.

Don't drink the water!

We were SO exhausted and slept from 6pm to 5am! We had been awake for 36 hours. The hotel is very quiet and comfortable.

The view from our room of Guangzhou.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
but still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute;
You didn't grow under my heart
but in it.

Where did you get $32,000?

Here are the numbers. THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!
I write this to encourage those who are considering adoption. If we can do it, anyone can!!

$150 from 2 dinner fundraisers at Chappy's Deli ~ 30 families
$5000 Show Hope grant (Steven Curtis Chapman's ministry)
$5000 God's Grace Adoption Ministry matching grant (2500 from friends, 2500 from the grant ministry)
$1600 in Toomer's Coffee Sales (We sold A LOT of coffee!)
$2700 First Yard Sale
$1700 Second Yard Sale + Kids Clothes Connection Sales
$16,000 from approximately FIFTY other family members and friends
Approx total $32,000 (As  I write this, we are at the $30,000 mark but I am confident God will provide another $2000!)

Very resilient brothers (Micah and Elijah) that have been so patient through this whole process
Chinese friends that have translated for us
Friends and family that have kept the boys for me while I get paperwork and packing done
Family keeping the boys while we go to China
Grandmothers that do laundry
Granny's that send lots of presents
Sweet Sunday School friends that gave us a shower
More sweet friends that gave us another shower
Neighbors that helped with our 2 yard sales
A church that is supportive
A family that is supportive
Awesome social workers that have trained us well

150+ people have come together to bring this soon-to-be daughter home!!!

Old picture of Meiqi Hannah. We saw this in her medical file for the first time in October 2012

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Final thoughts (2)

If you'd like to help us get to the top, please consider giving to our matching grant. Everything will be matched dollar for dollar up to $2500 - we'll get $5000

God's Grace Adoption Ministry
PO Box 4
Modesto, CA 95353

*Make a note "For Todd and Kim Pate"


Final thoughts (1)

We're ready!!!

I am sooo very excited to be at the end of this road. The end of waiting. The end of fundraising. The end of paperwork.

But it is not the end of trusting. If I have learned anything through this process, it has been to trust God, and that He is faithful. We are trusting God even though we cannot see Him ~ faith!  When I don't trust Him, I get anxious and fret and try to take matters into my own hands. Then I hear God's sweet voice say "I forgive you. Trust Me." I can trust God with our kids. I can trust God with our money. I can trust God with our marriage. I can trust God with our future. I can trust God with it ALL.

I am enjoying the fact that God has orchestrated our travel plans around Good Friday and Easter. We fly out on Good Friday, and Meiqi Hannah will become ours on Easter Sunday (Monday in China). If Jesus dying on the cross and being raised from the dead is not enough reason to celebrate, we get an extra blessing of meeting our new daughter!

What I am trusting God for now:
- Meiqi Hannah will know some English
- We will find favor with Meiqi Hannah
- God will provide our last $1500 (gets doubled to $3000 with matching grant!)
- God will give us great friendship with the other adoptive families in our group. I think there will be TEN other families with us - also adopting kids!
- The boys will be safe and happy while we're gone

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Only God

Our latest picture of Hannah. I have no idea what she is holding!
 I can't believe we only have 2 weeks left of the "waiting"process of our adoption journey. We sent in our application to Lifeline (which we love, by the way in October of 2011. We celebrated our 5 year anniversary and our acceptance into the program. Whew. The boys were only 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 then. They are almost 3 and 5 now. We sent in our application thinking we'll "just see" what happens, originally thinking we'd adopt a baby boy from the Congo in Africa. Ha!

We've endured 16 months of paperwork, interviews, meetings, lots of prayer and fundraising $32,000 and still keeping our marriage and home and family in tact. Let me say: this has ALL been the Lord.

That was then. This is now. Now we're packing and booking flights!! I have lists all over the house. I have a plethora of emotions. Excited to meet Hannah. Sad to leave the boys. Nervous about traveling. Sad to take Hannah away from all she's ever known. Excited to become a family of 5. I can't sleep. I'm nesting like a women who has been pregnant for 10 months. I feel as though I am on the verge of tears very often. I keep rearranging furniture.
Only God could do this!
See below if you'd like to help "top it off"
Hannah, you will be in our arms very soon!

I have had many "Only God could do this" moments this week:
- I've been expectantly praying for God to provide for our travel expenses (roughly $10,000). We've been praying and praying to hear back about a grant we applied for. The Lord told me to go to the mailbox. Sure enough, $5000. God listens!
- I was up til 2am on Thursday night. God led me to ask Him for the administrative people in China handling our travel document. I prayed for them, asking God to give us a speedy travel approval. And then I got our "travel approval"email on Friday. God listens!
- We've prayed that we could get Hannah before the busy travel time in China, in order to avoid the costlier travel costs. Sure enough... God listens!
- I needed a quick haircut today, and didn't make an appointment, and walked into a hair salon I've never been in before. A hairdresser I've never met before gave me a free haircut plus $100 cash for our travel expenses. God listens!
- I've been anxious about who to leave the boys with while we're gone, and asking God to work out all of those details. Tracy, Todd's sister, has 2 weeks off in between her internships, which will be the first week we're gone. Our travel dates will work perfect with Tracy's schedule!And then my Mom will be able to come the 2nd week we're gone. God listens!

Pray with us:
- Our remaining $5,000 in travel costs. We will get our final bill this week for travel costs.
- The boys - being away from us for 2 weeks; transitioning once we're home
- Hannah - her heart would be prepared for a family and a home

****If you are interested in giving to our adoption:
Under project category: select "adoption"
Under project: select "Pate, Todd and Kim"
Enter all of your info
You will get a receipt; it is tax deductible

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pieces of the Pie

So I had to put this pic on here, because it's the sweetest!!! 

Ok, so I tried my hardest to make a pie chart, but it just wasn't happenin' so this is the best I can do to show you what we have left to pay. This all  has to be sent to China before we get on the plane to get Hannah.

Consider "Taking a Piece of the Pie"  to Bring Hannah Home

(much of this is estimated; could be a little more or less)

Todd's Flights $1600
Kim's flights $1600
Hannah's One-Way Flight $1200
Hotel $2000
Food $500
Guide $500
Tours $500
Tuberculosis Test $130
Translation Fee $360
Guide/Service Fee $500
Driver Tips $200
Orphanage Donation (mandatory) $300
Total  Estimated Travel Expenses: $9,290

We have a tax deductible account for our adoption expenses. Email me at KimberlyLPate @ if you want more info!!!!!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday Hannah!!!

We had a sweet celebration of Hannah's 10th Birthday. We have the greatest family and friends in the whole wide world. We are so blessed to have so much love and support.
Thank you Aunt Tracy for hosting!!!
My sweet friends who helped host the shower
I was completely overwhelmed by all of the love
My China Adoption Mommies
All hands on China!