Friday, August 29, 2014

Our first Skype call

I have written and deleted this post several times. I'm trying to decide how much I can share without violating our girl's privacy. Our agency has given us no guidance on what we can and cannot share online. Instead, I ask myself this question - "If my girl comes across this post in the future, will she be embarrassed by what I wrote?"

I do want to share what we learned in hopes of helping other adoptive parents who are preparing for a Skype call.

Prepare as much as possible ahead of time. You will have no idea up front if the translator/social worker will take charge of the call or let you lead. On our call, the translator sat back and let us completely control the content and pacing of the call. We were not prepared for this. The translator may or may not be fluent in English. We were blessed; ours was great at translating our questions and our girl's responses but did not translate a lot of our commentary.

Do not assume that you will have the same experience as other adoptive parents. We were told that once you break the ice, you will be able to interact with your child. Our girl is shy and guarded her expressions and impressions of us. Be hopeful that your child will interact with you but prepare in case they will only give one word answers or refuse to answer at all.

Learn at least a few words or sentences in the language your child speaks. I introduced myself in Chinese and asked a question in Chinese. The translator was happy that I was making an effort to learn Mandarin. I'm not sure what my girl thought, but at least the translator could later reassure her that Mama is making an effort to make communication easier.

Be prepared for a bad Skype connection. The children's home had spotty internet and Skype kept dropping the call. That gave us a chance to quickly discuss what to try next to get her to relax but also made it harder to get any sort of momentum going.

What will we do different next time? We will be prepared to entertain her for at least the first 15 minutes of the call. That will remove the pressure on her to be involved and will hopefully allow her to relax. We've tossed around a few ideas like singing songs, performing magic tricks, reading books out loud, etc.

Next time, I hope to have a printed cheat sheet of Mandarin sentences that I know. I've been studying since last fall, have a pretty solid foundation, but completely blanked when the translator told me that our girl wanted to hear me say something else in Chinese.

I have not yet heard a report from my agency about what our girl thought of us after the call. My impression is that she will not say no after seeing us on Skype but that she's also not ready to say yes.

I do know that I love that kiddo an awfully lot and hope to be her mama. It was wonderful getting to see her smile on the call. I hope and pray that she will decide to become our daughter because I can't wait to start loving on her!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Our Skype call

What a blessing! Our Skype call was hard and rewarding. I'm still processing it all and hope to post about it tomorrow.

I did want to include a photo from our call. This is toward the very end of the call when she finally warmed up a tiny bit!

*I removed her pictures to protect her privacy.

I look forward to hearing what she thought of our Skype session!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

21.5 hours to go

Less than 24 hours to go until our Skype call! I am so excited!!

Tomorrow I have a bit of prep work to do. I need to tidy up the kitchen so that it doesn't look messy when we show her around the house. We need to go through the list of questions we've been compiling for months and order them according to importance. If we only get to ask a couple questions, we want to make sure they count!

We need to do another test run of a Skype call to make sure everything is working properly.

I need to prepare a couple things to say in Chinese. I'm going to do my best to not sound like a preschooler but there's probably not much I can do about that! I'm still a beginner.

And then we need to have fun!! We need to show her that she can have fun with us, that we are not scary.

Of course, we will be praying all day tomorrow, much the same as I've been praying for months. Please let her heart be softened. Please let us connect with her in some way. Please let her change her mind about adoption and agree to be our daughter!

I can't wait to see her and hear her voice! I'm so excited!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Upcoming Event

Date: Sunday, August 24
Time: 8:00 PM
Event: Skyping with our girl!!!!!!!!

I am over the moon thrilled that we finally have a Skype call scheduled. We have been laughing that we were told we would be given two weeks' advance notice. We've been given 72 hours!

Jeff and I are feeling fairly confident that our girl will be coming home. God promised that he who asks will receive. We've been asking that God will change our girl's heart, that she will want to be adopted and come home to us. God led us on this adoption path, to this particular child, and we believe that He will bring our girl home.

We'll be doing prep work for the call on Friday and Sunday. We have a lot of work to do but I am so glad to do it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A few random thoughts

Still no adoption news today...

I found this shirt at the mall. I kind of wish I could wear it on the Skype call to encourage my girl to want to be adopted.

aha moment, noun, a moment of sudden insight or realization at which something becomes clear

But I don't think the translator would appreciate my attempt at humor and my girl doesn't know enough English to understand the irony.

It's been rather warm lately (mid 80's) and my cat is miserable. Here he is plastered against the wall trying to find just a tiny piece of cool floor or wall to give him some relief. Silly cat...

Someone at church was handing out tomato plants earlier this year. I feel bad that I pretty much killed mine. I think it's because I don't have a garden to plant it in and my patio doesn't get enough sunlight. I thought the plant was completely dead when one day it sprouted tiny tomatoes. I waited for them to get a bit bigger. Because I have no idea what type of tomatoes these are supposed to be, I don't know how big they were supposed to get or if they were supposed to turn red. But they easily came off the vine today so I ate them. The two tiny ones weren't ripe yet but the biggest one tasted great!

Now I want to grow tomato plants so that I can eat my own tomatoes. It was highly satisfying to eat these three tiny tomatoes, even though it's the only produce I grew this year. I do hope to cultivate a garden someday.

Anyways, just a few of the tiny things I've been up to lately. Nothing insightful, just day to day life!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Skype? Maybe?

I haven't been posting much lately, because if I did, it would be a series of posts saying, "no news!"

We did hear from our agency on Thursday. A Skype call is in the works but has not been scheduled yet. Apparently they want to have the Skype call before the end of the month. We were told that they give two weeks' notice, but there are less than two weeks left in August! I'm still hoping and praying for a call in August. Our girl needs to see how much we love her so that she can come home!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lack of news

We still have no news of an upcoming Skype call. I am trying SO hard not to stress about it! Our girl agreed to a call but we don't have one scheduled yet. The social worker is supposed to visit her at the end of the month to see what she thinks about adoption. That visit may or may not end our adoption process, depending on how it goes.

I really, really, really hope that we will be able to Skype with her before any decisions are made. We have been begging for that call but have not heard anything yet.

The last few weeks have been a time of learning to lean on God. I know I am probably still failing miserably in my attempts to keep my faith high but I am trying. I am praying daily that God will help me to have faith in Him. "Lord, help my unbelief!" I am also praying that He melts my girl's heart so that she will want a family. We have so much love to give her, if only she knew!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Woman of Courage - A Book Review

I am the type of person who finishes almost every single book I start. I've given myself permission over the past year or so to not force myself to finish reading books that I don't like. Unfortunately for Barbour Publishing, Woman of Courage is a book that I just could not finish.

Woman of Courage is Wanda E. Brunstetter's newest novel. The premise is interesting. A Quaker woman decides that she is going to move to the Wild, Wild West to minister to the Nez Perce Indians. On her trip out west, everything goes wrong. Will she reach the mission outpost and begin her ministry or will she find a ministry in witnessing to a "trapper and his intriguing half-Indian friend [who] want nothing to do with Christians" (back cover).

I tried to like it. Truly I did. Maybe there is a fantastic story here but I could not get past the writing style. The final sentences in each chapter drove me crazy and often made me roll my eyes.

Several examples:

"As clearly as the full moon beamed through the parlor window, she knew she would never fall in love again" (prologue).
"What she didn't know was how she would go on without him" (chapter 1)."
"If he didn't get help soon, she could die" (chapter 7).
"Did she dare ask?" (chapter 10).
"Amanda hoped that was the case, because there was no way she could help Mary deliver her baby!" (chapter 13).

And a couple of award-winning lines:
"Wa-a-a! Wa-a-a! Wa-a-a!" (baby crying)
"Woof! Woof!" (dog barking)
"What was more, it was a comfort to have Thunder along, because Jim knew the dog would alert him to any danger that might be out there, lurking, because in the wilderness most anything could happen" (pg 159).

Brunstetter's book has another of my pet peeves, which is to use the title of the book several times in the story itself. I won't quote any of the lines because they could be considered spoilers, but nothing yanks me out of a story as fast as running across the title in the dialog.

I'm not sure that I would label this a "bad book" but it's definitely not to my taste. Hopefully someone else can enjoy it!

Many thanks to Barbour Publishing and Handlebar for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions. All thoughts are my own!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Tonight I finished lesson 100 of my Conversational Chinese class. I love this series of lessons! Everything builds on the previous lesson and is explained really well.

20 lessons to go and I'll be moving on the intermediate lessons.

I haven't gotten much conversational practice, as this is a video series. Once I finish the Conversational Chinese class, I hope to start using a forum for language exchange so that I can start practicing producing sentences, rather than just trying to understand what is being said. I used lang-8 to practice my written Japanese and will use it to practice Chinese as well.

Friday, August 1, 2014


On Wednesday, Jeff and I visited Kinokuniya, a bookstore over in Seattle. They carry a large selection of books in Japanese and a smaller selection in Chinese. I was very surprised to discover that almost everything I picked up is traditional Hanzi, which is what our girl can read. Mainland China uses simplified Hanzi, while Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional.

I know most of my posts lately have been about buying stuff for our future daughter. It's one of the few ways I can feel close to her as we prayerfully await Chung Yi's decision about continuing our adoption process. Our part of the adoption process is done until everything is submitted to court and then processed by the judge. In the meantime, we wait, we pray, and we shop to prepare for her arrival home.

I had a lot of fun in the bookstore. I spent two years studying Japanese so can read a little bit. Unfortunately, I'm a bit rusty but I still had fun picking out words here and there at the bookstore. I'm now learning Chinese and can read a lot of basic sentences. So it was fun for me to explore a bookstore that I can read in tiny pieces.

My best find? Something I desperately wanted to bring home but left there for now.

Title: How to Cook Korean Food
Language: Chinese
Country purchased: United States

I loved how that book is basically circling the world! I would love to experience the irony of learning how to cook Korean food in America while reading a book in Chinese.

We ended up buying three different manga titles, either the first two or three in the series. A book of paper dolls. And an activity/sticker book about Minnie Mouse. I hope that having books in her own language will help Zhi Zhi feel like she won't be so lost here in the US. I can't wait to show her!