Gazing Upward



**First, we just wanted to let you know that we are okay. We just heard about the Chinese earthquake too, but it’s 1200 miles north of us. Keep the people of Qinghai in your prayers. We appreciate your emails and concern!

This morning, we walked into Kunming’s Children’s Welfare Institute where our daughter spent the first six months of her life and the last four days before she became part of our family. As parents of Kunming children had previously shared, this orphanage is an eerie place. It is clean, but sterile.

It has a playground that looks unused.

There are very few children, at least that we were allowed to see. I visited four orphanages during a mission trip to Romania, and while they were all much less clean, there was so much more life and love in those places. We did get to see about 10 babies in a playroom, and the nannies did seem nice. But of course, they wouldn’t act any other way while we were visiting. One baby was in the corner crying, and none of the caretakes went to comfort him. Finally, the mother in the other family touring with us went over and held the baby boy. Grace and I went around to see each baby, and they were so precious. One little boy just looked deep into my eyes. I wanted so much to take him with us. I prayed over as many babies as I could, being discreet as possible.

At one point during the tour, we stopped in a hallway where three small babies were in papasan seats. Scott stooped down to play with a baby boy, and Grace began stomping her foot! She had a smile on her face, but it was clear she thought Scott should only be giving attention to her.

She also took my hand and walked me into a room lined with toddler beds and pointed to them. This is in fact where she slept this past weekend when she was brought back to the orphanage from the foster village.

She didn’t seem frightened, but she wasn’t entirely comfortable there either. Several caretakers called her name and came over to see her. She had been at the orphanage for the first six months of her life, so they commented on how big she had gotten. One woman said she was even more beautiful.

A few of the nannies held their arms out to Grace, but she turned away. One of them started taking her from my arms, and Grace immediately began crying and reached back to me.

Had we visited the orphanage a few days ago, I would have thought Grace was just being shy and quiet. But now having seen her active and bubbly personality, we could tell the visit made her confused and anxious. She was very subdued and clung to me most of the time, except for when she got down and showed me her bed. Most parents dread taking their children back to the orphanage for the tour, but it’s also considered important to see where our sons and daughters have been living and to have some record of that time in their lives.

When we returned to the hotel and sat Grace on the bed, she immediately broke into a huge smile and reverted back to the lively and happy girl we’ve seen the last two days. It was as if she knew she was safe when we returned “home.”

Grace continues to relax and unveil her personality.

While we thought she couldn’t walk well on Monday, she is now walking all over the room.

She loves playing with her shoes and water bottles.

She has a huge appetite and makes it known when she is hungry or wants more. She learned to sign “more” today, so that was an exciting step!

She has actually been eating far too much food…this is called hoarding. And most of the adopted kids from Kunming do this for a few months because they’re not used to having enough food.
She screamed and cried after she fell asleep tonight, and I wondered if it was gas from overeating. Too many puffs perhaps? It lasted a good 30 minutes, and I couldn’t console her, but I gave her Mylicon. She finally conked out in my arms, and my biceps will never been the same. I sure hope it wasn’t the beginning of night terrors. Please pray that it was just food-related.

While Grace seems to eat all day long, she will sometimes be picky about what she’s taking in. At breakfast, she actually threw a few pieces of watermelon from her highchair tray to my plate to show she didn’t want it! Our thoughts? Good arm and good aim…and she’s clearly got more spunk and feistiness than she first led us to believe. 🙂

She’s an incredibly happy baby.
She was using the lotion as a telephone!

I have been somewhat concerned that she hasn’t grieved more. From all the adoption and attachment material we had to read, she is definitely doing above average for her adjustment. But then, she may have sobbed her little heart out last Friday through Sunday at the orphanage. Maybe we’ve been the first sign of love and stability since she left her foster family. (By the way, I typed this part this afternoon before her nighttime meltdown, so who knows now?)

After we left the orphanage, our guide and driver took us to Grace’s finding spot. Her translated finding ad (see Found post on sidebar) describes the finding place as: “The construction/work site near the gate of subdivision No. 2 of Dong Jun Wan residential area, which is a jurisdictional area of Shu Guang Local Polic Station. “

This was the posted police station number that was called by the passerby who found Grace.

I had imagined that Grace’s birth parents lived nearby. However, Helen told us that many parents will take their baby further out of the city (which is where we were) so that no one will recognize them. They choose an area frequented by people so that passersby with quickly see the child and alert the police. I looked around the area trying to picture where Grace’s mother might have set her down. The building steps? The small grassy area? Inside the police guard stand on the side of the road?

This is a part of our daughter’s history we’ll never know.

Since we will be turning the posts of our journey into a keepsake book for Grace, I conclude with a letter to Virginia Grace…

Xiao baobei (little darling),

I want you to one day read this letter and know how much joy you’ve brought us, even after just a few days. We are so blessed by your smile, your laughter, and the gleam in your eyes. We never thought the day would come when we’d hold you in our arms. But you’re finally with us, and you’ve been incredibly strong and courageous as you’ve joined our family.

Your Chinese name, Guan Xue Hua, was given to you by one of the nannies at the orphanage. Guan is one the districts in Kunming. Xue is translated as snow/purity, as you were born in winter. And Hua means flower or beauty. On our plane ride to China, I listened to a beautiful song that Steven Curtis Chapman wrote after he lost his own adopted daughter from China in a tragic accident. Today, as I remembered the lyrics, your name seemed so perfect. From the ashes of your beginnings, you ahve truly risen. Loss, devastation, desertion can seem so endless and hopeless. But from these ashes, the Lord can bring beauty and joy. I wish I had known these lyrics with your daddy and I experienced another loss last year. Had we known the Pure Beauty that would arise from the ruins, we would’ve cried tears of both grief AND joy.

But very deep beneath all our broken dreams
We have this hope…
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise
And we’ll dance among the ruins
We will see with our own eyes
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise
For we know, joy is coming in the morning.

It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that’s been made
Out of the ashes, out of the ashes

Out of these ashes, beauty will rise

This very day, a mother could be tearfully placing her baby on a public bench as a sacrifice of love. An orphan might be crying tears of loneliness and despair as he mourns the loss of his family. A couple may be holding onto each other in frustration and deep longing as they confront infertility or miscarriage. I pray that they will one day recognize the beauty that rises from ashes. Anything laid at the feet of God will not go unredeemed. Xiao Baobao (little treasure), we know that firsthand. You are our beauty.

Wo ai ni. (I love you.)

Eternally grateful for your life,


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