Gazing Upward



It’s been an amazing day! When I awoke this morning, I almost felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I made sure her crib was ready and her outfits were all organized. I packed a diaper bag, and we headed downstairs to meet our guide.

I was a bit surprised that I felt so calm, but I did get choked up a few times on the way over to the Civil Affairs office. We were so fortunate that my friend Joy (whom you’ve seen in pics in the last few posts) was able to come with us this morning. We joked that she was getting to see a Gotcha Day video live! We were so thankful she was with us because when we arrived at the building and began walking into the room, Joy was ahead of us and stopped when she saw a little girl inside. Grace wasn’t supposed to be there yet, so we didn’t have any of our cameras ready. Joy confirmed the girl was indeed our daughter, so we were able to get our video camera to our guide and our digital camera to Joy so they could capture the moments following that we’ll remember forever.

When we walked in, Grace was standing with the lady who had brought her there and was looking at a soft photo album we had sent with pictures of our family.

As we walked in, I remember thinking, “She is just gorgeous!” She had on pink striped pajamas (with two other outfits underneath!), white sandals, and pigtails. She walked toward us a bit as we squatted down, but she was very interested in holding onto the pictures.

Her little lip quivered, and for a moment, I thought she’d start crying. But she held it together, perhaps because she was forced to in the foster home and orphanage. She let me hold her without any objection.

While Scott filled out paperwork and Joy snapped away with the camera, I hugged Grace and fed her puffs. She LOVES the puffs!

After we got more acquainted with Grace, they took us into a room to take a family picture.

She was pretty subdued and despondent all morning, but she did begin to make good eye contact with me. And that’s a very positive sign for bonding. She would smile and even let out some giggles when I lifted her up and down in the air. Her laugh made my heart sing. And when she smiles, she has the most adorable dimple on her left cheek!!!

A little sidenote….there was another family at the office, and their daughter is only one month younger than Grace. But she has been at the orphanage the entire time. She was much much smaller, could barely hold her head up, and was clearly severely delayed. The mother showed me that their daughter’s head was flattened on the back, similar to what young babies sometimes develop from laying on their backs. One of our adoption seminars taught that orphanage babies often spend 20 out of 24 hours in their cribs. Seeing the two girls side by side, I was overcome with gratitude that she had been moved to the foster village after 6 months. I am sure that this other precious girl will flourish now that she has been united with her forever family. It is amazing how these children change and grow when in the loving care of a family.
Grace fell asleep on the way to the place to file for a passport. They had to wake her up so she could be photographed for it, and I hated that! She looked so peaceful.

This is the woman who brought Grace to us today and oversees the paperwork of all the children.

When we got back to the hotel, we tried to see if Grace (whom we’re still calling Xue Hua right now so she’ll recognize her name) would go to Scott. She began crying and immediately reached back for me. I was sad that Scott couldn’t hold her, but we were both very encouraged that she seems to be bonding with me already. It’s very important for adopted children to bond with the mothers first.

Joy has been a blessing her entire visit with us, and she had already gone out to Salvadors (our fave place to eat here in Kunming) and brought back lunch for us. She had to leave by 1 pm to fly back home, and we were so sad to watch her go. She took lots of pics with her camera, as both of ours died pretty soon after we returned to the hotel, so she’s going to email me some pics later today.

Grace sat on the bed and began playing with stacking cups. Before long, we realized she had nested all seven cups in the correct order! This is huge…many adopted babies don’t know how to play with toys, much less put them together correctly.

We fed her some lunch and gave her some antibiotics the orphanage gave us (they said she has a sore throat), and then changed her into some clothes we’d brought.

She actually smelled so clean…just like Johnson and Johnson! We did notice a large purple/blue spot covering her lower back and tailbone, and we realized (after research) that it’s a Mongolian blue spot. But it’s supposed to be painless and should fade over time. She also has some spots on her legs, back and arms. They’re light brown…we’re not yet sure what they are, but we’re not overly concerned. As we expected, she has the Anning tan from being out on the farm with her foster mom. Her face and hands are very tanned! You can see a tan line in the picture…her arms are much lighter.
I initially thought she looked big for her age (compared to other Chinese children), but she really is quite small. The 9 mo and 12 mo clothes will definitely fit her, and she will probably grown into 18 mo by the summer simply because her legs are long. But she is very very skinny. Her hip bones practically stick out.
Before she fell asleep for her nap, Grace really began coming out of her shell. She started a game of giving me a toy and then pulling it away. She was squealing, laughing, smiling, and babbling. She loved looking through the photo album book and would running her hands over our pictures.

We’ve been very surprised that she’s doing so well, but I know the night is often the most difficult times for the children. Please say a little prayer over her when you read this that she would recognize comfort and security in our arms tonight.

I’ve probably made this long enough! I know I’ll keep thinking of more details to add. And we’ll continue to add pics and video each day. We don’t fly out to Guangzhou until Friday night because her passport won’t be ready until after 3 pm on Friday. (I didn’t know until today that this is why we have to wait a week in her province and then not have a consulate appt until next week.)
I’m a happy mama today, and Scott and I both keep looking at each other in awe. This day is surreal…we have a daughter! And now we just look forward to uniting with Carter so all four of us can be together.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.”

Isaiah 34:5


  • Comment by Samantha — April 12, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    Kelley, we are just so excited for you and the family. We cannot wait to meet Grace. We will continue to pray for bonding and safe travels. God is so Great!

  • Comment by Stacey Carden — April 12, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    I'm SO thankful things are going so well!! It is so fun to see her little smile!

  • Comment by Greg and Laura — April 12, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    Beautiful post! She has the same little tan hands that Anna has. It sounds like she is doing great…you all look so happy! Keep the pictures coming. By the way, I swear Anna recognizes Grace!

  • Comment by Gina Harris — April 12, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    Kelley this is awesome!!! I teared up this morning when I saw her little smile!! She looks so happy! I know you are on cloud 9 right now!!!

  • Comment by Natalie — April 12, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

    i am so happy for yall! if it means anything i have been having dreams the past couple nights about adopting a little girl in china – i have the strangest feeling its bc of yall 😉

    so happy knowing you are all there together finally!! and you will be back with carter in no time

  • Comment by Ashley Matteo — April 12, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    Praise the LORD. i was so excited about getting up and reading your post today and im so thankful things are going well. she truly is gorgeous and i know she will be a perfect, God-given, part of your family.

  • Comment by Alicia — April 12, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    LOVE her sweet smile!! She seems so happy and fun. She looks so good in your arms:) So glad the transition is going smoothly. You are in our prayers.

  • Comment by ab — April 12, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    Wow! Thank you for sharing ..I'm at school, and trying to hold it together. It's amazing,exciting, and I can't imagine how happy you two are today! I know so many are praying – what an incredible journey!

  • Comment by Jess — April 12, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    I was tearing up at my desk this morning reading this! I'm so glad your journey to Grace is finally over! Best wishes this week for fast bonding and that she will open right up to you guys!

  • Comment by Ashley Turnbull — April 12, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

    Kelly, you don't know me, but I found your blog a while back through mutual friends. I went to Auburn, too – think we were the same age. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much this means to me – we have struggled w/ infertility as well, and our hearts have been opened to adoption. The Lord did give us a biological child in June 2009, but our hearts are forever changed. Seeing your story is so encouraging to me, and I pray that God would grant us similar fortune w/ an adopted child in our future. She's gorgeous!!! When I watched your video of Grace laughing, I cried because that's the SAME laugh that my baby Kate has – just goes to show you that all of these are God's precious children, and should be welcomed into our families! I can't wait to watch the rest of of the story unfold. Praying for you guys…

  • Comment by Whitney — April 12, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

    I cannot tell you how much joy is in my heart at this moment. The sun is shining here, and my heart is smiling knowing this precious girl is now in your hands. We are all praying for you, Scott, Grace, and sweet Carter. God is good…God is good.

  • Comment by Danny — April 12, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    very excited for you guys! Can't wait for Lia Kate to meet her.


  • Comment by Jimbo and Hayley — April 12, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    YEAH! She is just so beautiful! I keep looking at the pictures…so so happy and can't wait to talk with you! Will be praying for a good night for each of you…and a good day for Carter! Love you, Hayley

  • Comment by Rooks Family: Brandon, Anna, Madeline and Eli — April 12, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    Kelley, I am WAY behind here. I didn't even realize you had left for China! Grace is BEAUTIFUL!! Can't wait to meet her.

  • Comment by Eleanor — April 12, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    I read your blog (and we have several friends in common) but I have never commented! Grace is so beautiful and I have been praying for y'all!!! Can't wait to see more pictures!!

  • Comment by Courtney — April 12, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    I just keep staring at these pictures over and over again (afraid I'm not being very productive at work–oops!). I can't wait to meet her!!! Praying for the days ahead…we love you so much!

  • Comment by Kim — April 12, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

    Filled with joy and in awe of all His mercies!
    Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,

  • Comment by Prentices — April 12, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

    What a wonderful day! Praying that you all get some sleep tonight, and I know Carter is doing just great with his grandmary. So happy for this day!

  • Comment by Darby — April 12, 2010 @ 3:41 pm


    She is so BEAUTIFUL…. what a precious little angel you have. Her little tan lines are so cute too! She looks so happy and content in your arms. What a blessing she is… praise the Lord!!!!! I will continue to pray for you and Scott and sweet Grace!!

  • Comment by Beth Goff — April 12, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    THRILLED for yall! She's just so beautiful and I am so glad that Joy was there with you! How special! Praying for the rest of your trip and I know your family cannot wait to see your beautiful babyg girl!

  • Comment by Shelley — April 12, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    Oh Kelley!!! She is absolutely beautiful! And you are right…that dimple is amazing! : ) I am so thankful the day went well. I will be praying for her to continue to learn to trust you both. Anna Grace preferred me the first 3 days. By the 4th she was taking a bottle from Daddy and falling asleep in his arms. I am so thankful you are giving us the privilege of following along. I can't wait to see the next round of pictures!

  • Comment by B-Mama — April 12, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

    I am a weepy mess here at the computer. What a beautiful, beautiful tale you all are creating. God bless you in the coming days! I can't wait to ready about all the JOY little Grace brings to your life. Continued prayers…

  • Comment by Sarah Armstrong — April 12, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

    I am so thankful for the gifts of technology and blogs and digital cameras so that all of us can see this journey unfold in close to “real time”. It is a blessing to see her sweet little face and to know the wonderful future she has in your family! Keep on posting and sharing!

  • Comment by Anna — April 12, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    I keep rereading all of this! I'm so happy for you and Scott! I can't wait to meet her!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment by The Hamiltons — April 12, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

    I LOVE HER!!!!

  • Comment by The Picardy's — April 12, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

    This is so exciting. I can barely read this without crying, just so sweet. Grace is absolutely beautiful and you look so happy! Congrats to your family and of course we can't wait to meet her!!

  • Comment by Brittany — April 12, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

    Oh my goodness, I am in love with her already!!!!!!!!!!! I just can't get over how beautiful she is! 🙂 I love how you are walking us all step by step through your journey, thank you! I am praying for you, Scott and Grace as she transitions into your family!

    What a little miracle she is.

  • Comment by Justin and Marcie — April 12, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

    I am praying for little Grace and you're family. You are such an inspiration to everyone that reads this blog and you and your family deserve the best that God has to give. He has truly blessed you!

  • Comment by Melissa — April 12, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

    I have been thinking about you nonstop sense last night. It is so hard to believe she is in your arms!! Praise God! OH, she is sooooo beautiful! Cute as a button!! Praying that you continue to bond with her!!

  • Comment by Stephanie — April 12, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

    SO happy for y'all. I've read this post several times and can't get over how beautiful she is. The video is precious.

  • Comment by Carrie and Jordan — April 12, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    What an amazing story!!! I'm praying for all of you. Grace is precious!!!!

  • Comment by Sara — April 12, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

    Loved reading every detail. Thanks for letting up have a peak into your world. She is beautiful!

  • Comment by Amanda @ Our Oklahoma Nest — April 12, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

    I don't remember how I found your blog, but I have been following it for awhile now. I just had to comment on this post. Congratulations! What an amazing and exciting story! She is just precious!

  • Comment by Shonni — April 12, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

    She is so beautiful and I am so happy for you all. I am new to your blog and just wanted to say congratulations.

  • Comment by Kimberly — April 12, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

    Kelley~ I am so thrilled for you and know you must feel such relief and gratitude that Grace is finally in your hands. She is absolutely beautiful and she is a blessed little girl to have you as parents!!! Thanks for sharing your journey and for your encouragement to me! The Lord is faithful! We need to talk soon…
    Much Love,
    Kimberly Chalk

  • Comment by Emily — April 12, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

    I've been reading your blog for a while now (we have lots of mutual friends and I also went to Rhodes – graduated in '05) and I'm so happy that today is finally here!! She is absolutely gorgeous! I'll be praying that you have a good night tonight together!!

  • Comment by Peggy — April 12, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

    So beautiful! I'm so happy for all of you and can't wait to hear more about your first week together!

  • Comment by sierrasmom — April 13, 2010 @ 12:47 am

    I am a RQ follower. I always thought yuor avatar picture was adorable and now I see why!!! What a cutie!!! Its great she is bonding with yuo. We had my husband feed our daughter ice vream while in China, just a few teaspoons each night and she soon loved Daddy too!! When you get her home have your pediatrician document her Mongolian spots jsut in case someone notices them and doesn't know what they are!! Can't wait to follow the rest of your journey!!!

  • Comment by Carla — April 13, 2010 @ 1:21 am

    BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Brings happy tears to me to remember this same moment with our Katie. Kunming Kids are special aren't they?! 🙂 Congratulations!!!!

  • Comment by Julia — April 13, 2010 @ 2:05 am

    What a precious, beautiful little girl you have! We are all so excited for you!

    – Julia (Emily Giffen's cousin)

  • Comment by catherine — April 13, 2010 @ 2:09 am

    She is beautiful!!! I love her hair in the little pig tails. How precious. I am so glad that she is safe in your arms. Can't wait for yall to be back safe in Birmingham. Will keep praying.

  • Comment by Wife of the Pres. — April 13, 2010 @ 4:18 am

    CONGRATS on your Kunming sweetie from a proud Mom to another Kunming sweetie.

    She is adorable!!! I am so thankful the day has gone so well!

    I am hopingfor08 over at RQ btw. 🙂

    Hope you can share about your thoughts regarding foster care and the other child NOT in foster care over at the Yunnan Yahoo group where this is being discussed a lot lately. I found your comments regarding the child not in foster care to be very important for Kunming parents to read, whether our children were/are in foster care or were/are in the SWI's care. It is a different type of care.

    Her tan, btw, is too cute. Our Kunming girl is already getting so dark and it is just getting warm.
    Again, many congrats! She is beautiful and you definitely were glowing!!!

  • Comment by Dwelling Space — April 13, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    Kelley, I've been following your blog for a couple months now and have loved keeping up with your story. I'm a Birmingham native, but am serving Him in China this year with my husband and have been so encouraged by the blogs of Birmingham families who have just recently adopted children from China! I have been upholding y'all during your time here 🙂 Grace is beautiful! So happy for y'all!

  • Comment by Ericka B. Jackson — April 13, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

    OHMYGOSH! Tears in my eyes as I read – she is so so beautiful!!! I have been praying every time I think of you all that she would bond with you instantly; that she would feel safe, loved, and know that you were her parents. Praying that same bonding prayer for her and Carter too!

  • Comment by Somewhere In The Sun — April 13, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

    Oh my goodness I just have chills reading your post! I love seeing the pictures of all of you together! I'm so happy for you!


  • Comment by Ashley — April 13, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

    Oh she is just beautiful! Congratulations!

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