Carissa YaMei

This, was our first look at "Bethany" on December 13, 2004. We were still waiting to see if we were going to be accepted by our agency, America World and this child, as well as 4 others were on their waiting child list. Originally, we were only interested in an as-young-as-possible, healthy baby girl, (see God smile in Heaven) but after only a week or so of research on how many special needs children were waiting for homes, we decided to adopt a child with special needs, so long as the child's issues were very minor. (...see God smiling again).

This beautiful little girl with the sad eyes had only one small problem listed..."crooked spine." I jumped online and soon saw that the medical term for her condition was scoliosis and that while it had varying degrees of severity and causes, it was easily treatable and becomes a non-issue in adulthood.  On December 22, 2004, we were accepted as clients of AWAA and after we prayed about it for another day, we advised our contact at the agency we were interested in adopting "Bethany"...whose Chinese name was "Fu Ya Mei." We began the adoption process in earnest in January, 2005 and after what I thought was an excruciating process and wait of nine months (hindsight eyes are rolling here...) On September 15 we flew to China to meet and adopt our newest family member and 10th child. We kept an abbreviated journal of our time there and we wish to honor our Carissa and share it with you now as a reminder of how precious that journey was.

Here was the in-country Itinerary provided to us by our wonderful agency, America World Adoption:
September 15th to 30th
Thursday, Sept. 15 Depart for China: CO2565
Friday, Sept. 16 Arrive Beijing: CO89 at 1:45pm
Saturday, Sept. 17 Beijing Sight-Seeing: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, & Summer Palace (Lunch & Dinner Included)
Sunday, Sept. 18 Church service & Great Wall (Lunch & Beijing Duck Dinner Included)
Monday, Sept. 19 Morning flight to Zhengzhou;
Meet your child
September 20-23 Paperwork, Sight-seeing, & Shopping
Saturday, Sept. 24 Morning flight to Guangzhou
Sunday, Sept. 25 Filling out Consulate Forms
Monday, Sept. 26 Child’s Medical Exam
Tuesday, Sept. 27 Sight-seeing & Shopping
Wednesday, Sept. 28 Consulate Appointment at 11:00am
Thursday, Sept. 29 Pick up child’s Visa
Friday, Sept. 30 Depart for Hong Kong: CZ301 at 8:30am Depart for US: CO98 at 11:30am

Our travel companions ~ now our forever friends ~ the Johnson's & the Husnick's @Tiananmen Square

Our wonderful guides in China...Sherri and Linekar

One of the many courtyards in The Forbidden City...The place is HUGE!!

Lunch...Chinese family style!

The boats on the lake at the Summer Imperial Palace

Our group on the wall

The incredible Great Wall of China

9/15/2005 -
We leave Today!
I can't believe it... we leave in just over 2 hours for the airport, and the first leg of our journey to Carissa. We are very excited and didn't sleep too well last night. We fly out of Syracuse, NY to Newark, then at noon, we take the long leg to Beijing China. That flight will be approx. 14 hours long, but because of the time difference we arrive in Beijing on Friday, at 1:45 pm. We will post more when we arrive in China. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we undertake this momentous journey.
David & Regina

The first couple of days:
We arrived in Beijing at about 3:00 in the afternoon, China time after a long, but uneventful flight. We met up with approximately 30 other families who are also using our agency, America World Adoption, and are here to pick up there babies at the same time. We spent a very low-keyed Friday evening just resting up in order to be prepared for our big day touring on Saturday.
It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the mid 80's and a nice breeze. At 8:30 am, the entire group left the hotel in 2 big tour buses for Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. Earlier that morning we discovered much to our dismay, that the digital camera that we are borrowed from our daughter, Sarah would not work! Thankfully, we also brought our 35 mm Nikon, so while we were able to get pictures, we are not able to post them yet.
Our tour guides Sherri and Linekar are absolutely wonderful! They are very knowledgeable, helpful and witty to boot! We were very impressed with the incredible beauty and care of these historic landmarks, and we were given a wonderful history and background lesson in each location as well. After the tour of Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City and walking about 3 miles, we took a break for lunch. Lunch was served to us Chinese family style...a round table that accommodated 10 people with a huge lazy susan in the center. Upon this lazy-susan, servers placed up to 12 different dishes of varying meats and vegetables to which you helped yourselves with chopsticks. Everything was very tasty!
After lunch, we toured the Summer Palace, which boasts of over 14,000 paintings from various Chinese artists and a 250-acre hand-dug lake.
We finished the day by touring the pearl factory, (where Regina was handed one of the 32 pearls from a fresh oyster as a momento!)
 and the silk was fascinating to watch the silk-spinners at their craft.
On Sunday, after attending Services at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship, we set off to tour the Jade factory. The expertise of the Artisans hand carving the jade was also amazing...from tiny delicate pieces to mammoth jade structures, no piece lacked their artful attention to detail. Everything was beautiful. We bought Carissa a jade horse to give to her on one of her future birthdays.
Then were loaded up into the buses again and we were off to see and climb a portion of the Great Wall of China.
Words cannot describe, nor pictures accurately capture the incredible majesty of the Great Wall. I never use this term loosely, so you will believe me when I say it was an awesome experience.... and quite the work out as well! To think that this monumental undertaking ~ the wall spans some 1500 miles across China's mountains and plains, is 30 feet high and wide enough to accomodate five horses abreast ~ was started 300 years before Christ was born and finished in only 14 years is truly incredible!!
After experiencing the Great Wall, we left to attend another special dinner. It was served to us in the same family manner, but this time the servers wore traditional Chinese costumes. They were quite beautiful in their colorful Silks and large, flowering headdresses. After dinner, many of the families were off to the Chinese acrobat show, but we were pretty tired, and opted to go back to the hotel to rest up for our big day tomorrow. We leave our hotel in Beijing at 9:00 and fly to Zhengzhou, the capitol of Henan, where Carissa YaMei now lives. We are expecting to be able to get her sometime between 2:00 and 6:00 tomorrow afternoon. We are VERY excited, and don't anticipate sleeping too well tonight! Well, we can't wait to post again tomorrow and let you know how it all went for "Gotcha Day". Hopefully, the camera will be working AND we will be able to get some shots during those first few historic moments.

 September 19, 2008~ We finally meet our Carissa YaMei

This first prelude to the following journal entry should have been included, as the original prediction of lack of a good night's sleep definitely came true. The nervous anticipation alone of our finally meeting our Carissa would have been sufficient to keep us awake all night, but on our last night in BeiJing was also the final celebration of the Moon Festival. Outside of our hotel there was a live band playing in the Courtyard until after midnight. Now we were seven flights up from the band, but our window faced the open courtyard and the music was so loud that it felt like we were directly opposite it.The female Chinese lead singer "specialized" in singing Western for hours we were "delighted" to be entertained by such classics as "I Wii Aw-ways Wuv you..." A sort of Elmer Fudd sings Whitney Houston... until 1am!!
(Of course, now I find this totally hysterical, but then I was in NO mood for it! )
As if that is not bad enough, the beds in this luxury Radisson are ROCK-HARD...we've gone camping and slept in sleeping bags on the ground with softer surfaces than these mattresses provide! AND on top of that I ate a piece of fish for dinner (No one warned me they don't bone the fish here) and I was convinced I had a small fishbone stuck in my throat all night! Chinese food in China, is NOT the same thing as what they serve in the US...NOT AT ALL!!
David managed to sneak some rest in that night, but to NO sleep for me, again. After breakfast we joined the Husnick's in their room for a sweet and encouraging time of prayer before leaving for the airport. Here now, is our original entry from that day:

This morning we flew to Zhengzhou, the capitol of the Henan Province, which is the region where our daughter was born and has been in an orphanage for more than two years. It was a new and odd sensation being the only Caucasians on-board a flight of over 200 staring Chinese. It was also interesting to watch the Chinese people watch the Chinese comedy on the in-flight video monitors. Although the programming was classic situation comedy and was very funny to us even though we didn't understand a word, yet the Chinese on board seemed very restrained and hesitant to hardly smile, let alone laugh out load. They almost seemed afraid. When Regina did laugh out loud, they turned to stare incredulously….different culture, I guess.
Ok, this bears some elaboration...remember I am really tired from lack of many days sleep now and still pretty nervous about our upcoming day.Now when I am that tired things seem to me to be "more" than really are and this slap-stick programming, which would still be funny on a normal day that day was hysterically funny to me and I couldn't seem to control my laughter at the hilarious situations presented. That is until David elbowed me to look around at the reactions my laugh-out-loud laughter was receiving ~ EVERY head within 20 rows of us was turned and staring in such disbelief and no small measure of disapproval that I felt like I had all of a sudden sprouted another head! After that, I covered my mouth whenever I could not suppress my laughter and the rest of the flight was uneventful.

We had barely checked into our new hotel, The Xinya Jianguo, when our guide, “Bob” called from the hotel lobby to ask if they could bring up Ya Mei. Though we have been “getting ready” for this moment for more than 9 months, I guess you can never really feel prepared for something like this. When Carissa came walking up the hall, holding her Ayi’s hand, we knew in an instant that this wasn’t just some cute little girl that would be nice to adopt. Rather, this tiny person already had the stamp of “us” somehow in her very soul – we could both see in her eyes that she was a little “Long.” Even with her jet-black hair and eyes she looked like family to us. However, she didn't catch on to the family resemblance at first and was in NO mood to even try...
The first few hours were extremely hard for YaMei. She cried very hard when her nanny left and eventually cried herself to sleep lying against her Daddy’s (Baba’s) chest. After a brief nap though, she decided Mama was a safer bet in this new world and spent most of the night staying in very close proximity.By 8:00, she was out like a light. She has a chest cold though, and was coughing quite a bit throughout the night.
That afternoon we spent over an hour with our translator "Bob" asking the Ayi (nanny) who brought her many questions what YaMei's and her crib-mate, Sammy, the Husnick's new son, normal routine was. We learned afterwards that this particular nanny did not usually take care of YaMei or Sammy , she was just the one with senority who got to come on the trip to the city, so most of her answers were inaccurate!
Anyway, any port in a storm and during that time YaMei sat quietly on the Ayi's lap. If either one of us tried to hold her she would cry a most devastatingly sad cry. She came to us quite sick, with a nasty cough and cold and when she cried it was the awful raspy cry of a sick, frightened just broke our hearts.
Noneletheless when she was on her Ayi's lap, she would occasionaly look at us and a few times played a little game of sharing some of her snacks that she brought with her...OH MY it was some nasty tasting stuff, but we acted like it was wonderful!
Another amusing recollection ~ we were given limited custody of YaMei and a limited amount of time to decide whether we "wanted her."  The normal time frame for your "Satisfaction Guarenteed" is 24 hours, but because it was so late in the day when we received her, we were only allowed 16 hours or  till 10am the next morning to make up our minds...if we decided against the adoption, she would return to her orphanage. We actually had to sign a paper agreeing to this shortened time frame!! Well, needless to say, we decided to keep her!

When it was time for bed that night, I dressed her in her new pajama's, gave her some of the medicines I had thankfully brought with us and tried to tuck her into her new crib with the blanket I had made for her. But very soon her sobbing began again and I was holding her and rocking her trying to get her peaceful. For MONTHS I had practiced singing a little lullabye in Chinese, just for such an occasion as this, but in my fatigue and distress the words flew right out of my head. The only thing that came to my mind was a song I heard on the radio before leaving the US that started with the words..
"Oh stop your crying it will be all right
Just take my hand, hold it tight
I will protect you from all around you
I will be here, don't you cry
For one so small, you seem so strong
My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm
This bond between us, can't be broken
I will be here, don't you cry..."

And so I sang the entire song to her which I have since learned is an adoption song from the movie "Tarzan" and though she did not know a word of English, she settled down and fell asleep. And every night after that, I would sing this song to her and to this very day, "You'll Be in My Heart" is known around here as Carissa's song.
And I STILL can never hear it without a few tears coming to my eyes...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 Carissa officially becomes our forever daughter...

Tuesday morning, we had the first of numerous appointments for the officiating of the adoption process. Here at the office of Civil Affairs, China officially transferred their custody of the child, Fu Ya Mei, to us. It was also at this appointment that we first really saw her smiling and laughing. We had given her a mini flashlight for a toy, and she was having a great time shining it at her Baba and watching him animatedly trying to avoid the light.
Later that afternoon, we went shopping for a new pair of shoes for Carissa, as the ones she came with and the ones we brought were too small.
The rest of the day, our new little one did great at beginning to play and enjoy her new parents. She is truly an amazing child, extremely bright and pretty well mannered. She says “Xie Xie” (thank you) when given something she wants without being prompted. She tells us when she needs to go to the bathroom and has gone both days and nights without a single accident. We began showing her pictures of her many new siblings at home, teaching her some English and her brothers and sisters’ names. She likes all the pictures except Wallace the dog. She took his picture right out of the photo album!


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

This morning we headed to the Notary Public’s Office, where we would promise that we will always take good care of our new daughter and never abuse or abandon her. Unbeknownst to us, the Orphanage Director and the nanny were also at this appointment also. At first, both Sam & Carissa seemed a little frightened and confused at seeing them. The Nanny kept coming to the door and waving at Ya Mei. Ya Mei didn't really respond too much.
When it was time to leave, the Nanny was waiting by the door and Ya Mei walked over and put her hand into her hand and started walking with her for a few steps. We thought our hearts would sink to our toes, but then YaMei stopped and turned around, held up her arms to Regina and said "Mama". She then said “Zai Jian” (goodbye) to her Nanny and didn’t look back. It was totally amazing to see how bonded and secure Carissa had become in a little more than 30 hours. It seems she definitely wants go forward in life with her new “forever family.” We were so relieved and took that for such a good sign, that we decided to both go to the orphange and bring Carissa with us to Jiaozuo the next day.
The rest of the afternoon, we had no scheduled appointments, so this was a “rest day.” We enjoyed a leisurely day, mostly playing with Carissa. We decided to go for a walk on the streets of Zhengzhou with our new friends, Mike and Dawn Husnick and their newly adopted son, Samson. Sam comes from the same orphanage as our Carissa. When Sammy first came, his new Baba gave him a Cubs baseball hat and put in on backwards. He has not parted with that hat since he came. As we traveled by foot walking down the street, Sammy was holding on to both Dawn & Mikes's hands, when he started walking slower and slower. Well we discovered that his pants had fallen down around his ankles and he never said a word...he just kept trying to walk and had the biggest, tongue-sticking-out grin you can imagine. SO CUTE!!!
Well from the hotel district we walked into a region of common shops, and we realized again that when white westerners go into public in ths area of China, especially with Chinese children in tow, you are a spectacle, to say the least. Most people smiled and made warm gestures. A few had looks of confusion and even suspicion. Our guide tells us that the many of the Chinese people understand these scenarios and are grateful that Americans adopt their many orphans in order to give them better lives. Others have been told rumors that Americans are just here to bring home these children to "harvest" their organs...thus the suspicious looks.
Well, tonight, we decided to try the authentic Chinese restaurant at the hotel. This hotel, while a beautiful 5 star hotel (Former Pres.Bill Clinton stayed here last week!) does not have nearly a single staff memeber that speaks even slightly proficient English. Communicating needless to say, has been..."interesting".
They put us in a private “chamber,” a large round private room and dedicated at least 5 servants to wait on the 10 of us. It was quite a challenge trying to order from their lengthy menu of authentic Chinese dishes. Though the menu had pictures and came with complete English subtitles, most of the descriptions were not so appetizing. Maybe it’s just us, but pig's intestines, bovine genitalia and various insect options were not what we had in mind.
Hello?? Where’s the Sweet and Sour Chicken?
What...? No Egg Rolls? As we mentioned before, Chinese food in China IS NOT at all the same as what we eat in the U.S.A.!
Well, thanks to David's expert ordering for us all, we somehow made it through, but not without amusing the waitresses to the points of out-loud giggles and doubled-over laughter. Brian Johnson had the rest of us all in stitches through out the meal and the picture of the new moms with the kids on the couch was just one of the times we were rolling with laughter that evening
Now with the exception of happy Sammy...he never failed to smile and flash the "peace" sign whenever a camera was presented... the other two kids didn't find very much amusing that evening at all!!
At least we didn’t go broke eating; this generous meal for 10 in a 5-star hotel cost about $45. We all went to bed absolutely exhausted and slept 9 to 10 hours that night. Dad fell asleep before 7:30 PM, Carissa shortly after, and Mom by 8.
Tomorrow, we drive the 1-1/2 hours to Jiaozou and see where Carissa spent the first years of her life.

Thursday, September 22, 2005  ~ Another Tearful Farewell

Since Dawn decided to stay back in ZZ with Sam, just Mike , the and we would be carpooling to Jiaozou to visit the orphanage.
The two-hour journey to the city of Jiaozuo provided many interesting sights on the way. There are many more bikes and scooters than cars or trucks in China. We drove through sections of both rural and urban poverty, but also through beautiful countryside of endless rice and cornfields.
We found that the Chinese have very different “rules of the road” than we do, which is to say there are no rules. Most intersections have no stop signs, yield signs, or signal lights. But what’s interesting is that no one ever really stops; they just sort of “flow” with each other, with hundreds of bikes, motorized scooters and pedestrians swarming about at all times, and all sorts of small cars and trucks swerving in and out of all lanes. It’s more like water flowing down a stream than some controlled, organized activity. People cut each other off without hesitation and no one seems to mind. At one point, our driver was frustrated with the slow speed of the trucks in front of him and decided to play chicken with an oncoming flat bed tractor-trailer while trying to pass two more rigs. I wasn’t sure why we survived, but apparently our vehicle has some sort of special “passage” – the common people have to move if the driver honks, and sure enough the oncoming tractor trailer slowed, so did the two we were trying to pass, and somehow we “shot the hole” in time to avoid a head on collision. And all of this with no seatbelts or carseats in any of the vehicles….amazing! The ladies keeps their heads down, eyes closed, almost all of the time.
When we arrived, we were taken to a conference room where we waitied for Director Han to arrive. After finishing the $$ formalities orphanage donations and gift exchanges (except for the Ayis's gifts), we were taken to the building to see where Sam & YaMei had lived. On the way to the building, several Ayis came out of a building carrying food, but they all stopped when they saw YaMei and called to her. She readily got down from my arms and went to them. Here we were introduced to her(real) primary care nannies and we gave them their gifts. One Ayi in particular was especially fond of Ya Mei and carried her for the remainder of the time we were there.

We were taken to the second floor, and shown where Sam & Carissa slept. At the orphanage, the nannies and staff seem to sincerely love Ya Mei. We got to see where Carissa spent the last two and a half years; where she played; where she learned; and even where she slept.
At that time there was at LEAST 5 Ayis and Director Han following OUR entourage of over 10 people , all crammed in a small hallway and some of the children, quite justifiably became ovewhelmed and started to cry. Others clung to our legs and just begged to be held holding up their arms and saying "Baobao"...(hold me). It was a haunting experience that we will never forget, looking into those beautiful, yet needy faces.
I snapped as many pictures as I could, but it was difficult in the chaos and I received a few disapproving looks and didn't want to push my luck.
Thankfully D.Guang was there at that time, passing out pretzels the V's had brought for the kids and making life a party. (If you look up "Life of the Party" in the dictionary, you will find D.Guang V's picture!)
We were then taken to the COAT playroom, and Carissa's Ayi's showed us the exercises they had been doing with her. Both they and YaMei were quite proud of her accomplishments!
Now some areas in the orphanage were very clean – like the sleeping, main play and education areas.
Others –like the bathrooms – are way below Western standards of cleanliness and sanitation. We encountered this and many other dichotomies throughout our travels here. China is, if nothing else, a land filled with contradictions. More on that later.
When it came time to leave the orphanage, it was really hard for Carissa, we think more from confusion than from really wanting to stay. We walked to the lobby of the building, and this time, our hearts were really sinking as Carissa was beginning to cry. Her Ayi spoke to her firmly, yet gently. But now this Ayi could no longer hide her own tears, and she began to furiously wipe them away with the back of her hand and tried to duck behind a column to hide. After all, she took care of our little YaMei for more than 2 years only to give her up to two total strangers from another country. Yet when it came time to leave, it was she who was encouraging YaMei to go and be happy with her new Mama and Baba. We backed out of the building repeatedly thanking her in English and Chinese with tears and blown kisses and she blew kisses back . It was a very emotional moment and one I shall never forget. May the Lord bless her for her love and kind care she gave to our daughter. We left many gifts for the orphanage, the directors, and other nannies, but how do you really show your appreciation to these good people who pour their lives and hearts into this usually thankless job?
After this, we traveled to the very spot in Jiaozuo where Carissa was “abandoned” at age 5 months. This was in front of the guarded main gate going into an institute for mechanical engineering in the heart of the city. It seems obvious to us and the orphanage workers that YaMei’s parents wanted her found and taken in for care, since age 5 months would be enough to begin to see that she had a serious curvature in her spine.
Today, we also received from the orphanage a copy of the “finding ad.” This is an advertisement in the local paper, which the orphanage must run when they find an abandoned child. This ad tells the reader that a child was found at a certain point and the parents should come and claim the child. Of course, no one ever does, but the ad is probably the government’s way of simply letting the parents know the child was found and is in official care. In China, many people apparently understand that foreigners, mostly Americans adopt these SN children and give them good homes. The Chinese name for Americans is Meiguoren…which means “beautiful people”. We are so honored.

September 23, 2005 Still in the honeymoon phase
Well our Carissa YaMei may indeed have had a rough start with us, but since then she has blossomed forth every hour with more life, joy and spirit then we could have ever hoped for.
While she is DEFINITELY a Mama's girl, she started tolerating her Baba sometime on Wednesday. Nonetheless, she still adamently prefers to have me do most things with and for her. She has never once had an "accident"...not even at night. She is incredibly smart and intuitive and very particular about doing things just so.
She is VERY verbal and loves to talk when she is comfortable with people, and she and Sam have so much fun "shouting" at each other...usually in public.
She is amazingly beautiful, and when she smiles and laughs in her deep throaty way, she just lights up the room and melts our hearts.
Did we mention that she is absolutely incredible yet?
She is mostly well behaved and cooperative, but has also shown us her considerable stubborn streak as well. She has decided in the past couple of days that she needs to test the limits of her new home. At first we were hesitant to tell her no about things...but it became VERY apparent that this child knew exactly what she wanted and
how to get it...throw a full-blown, old-fashioned temper tantrum, complete with kicking, screaming and sobbing at the top of her lungs.
Not pretty!
We know that she was not allowed to behave this way at her orphanage, so we understand that she is attempting to find her way with these strange, new people. When these situations happen in they almost always do, we have had well-meaning Chinese people come over and try to tell us to just give her what she wants, since they think we don't understand what it is she is demanding. It is challenging while we are here in their country to train her as we think we should since we receive many disapproving looks and remarks, but we attempt to anyway! She has already shortened the duration of the tantrums, and sometimes they can now be headed off at the pass with a simple stern look by Mama, or firm voice by Baba. She then immediately returns to the unbelievably wonderful, smiling, delightful girl that we have fallen head-over-heels in love with.
There is so much to tell, we could write a book about this week alone, but it is quite late and we have an early flight to Guangzhou in the morning.
Hopefully, we will have the time to stay in better touch.
Love from China,
David, Regina
& the Incomparable Princess of Henan ~ Carissa YaMei!

Sunday, SEPTEMBER 25, 2005~ Heading into the storm...

Please pray for our precious little Carissa, as she has been grieving pretty hard today. She started acting like she wasn't feeling too well on Friday, the day after we visited Jiaozuo, and had a couple of tantrums. On Saturday, the tantrums got worse, and by today, NOTHING will make her happy.
She has barely tolererated her poor Daddy at all these past 3 days, but today she pushed me away, kicking and sobbing "Bu you! Wo shiang Aya". (I don't want you, I want my Ayi) It just broke our hearts to see her so sad. This lasted for over an hour, till she finally cried herself to sleep. She let me hold her as she was drifting off, but when she wakes up, she looks very dismayed to see me, not her Ayi. She does not want to eat or drink or especially be comforted by us right now. We are giving her space, but remaining very close by. Pray that her little heart would know that she is loved and that she would find some peace soon.

~~~~Into the Wind and the Waves ~~~~
Our China Journal

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Our poor Carissa YaMei continues to struggle with being with us. We went into this knowing there would be a very strong possibility that this transition would be extremely difficult for we were prepared for her to be upset, confused and angry. At her age she cannot understand what is going on ~ this child has been plucked from the only life she knew...without her foreknowledge or consent... to be taken care of by these bizarre looking, talking, smelling, acting people in a totally strange place. ~ In our heads we KNOW all this, but it is so difficult right now for all of us, especially trying to work this out here in a foreign country.
Now when she is “on” YaMei is the sweetest, most charming little girl and she is SO endearing, and in spite of her many difficult moments, there are also times when she is peaceful and almost happy.
Nonetheless, if something sets her off...and we never know what that will be...WOW!! We have never experienced or seen tantrums like this child can throw. NaiNAi Linda, the Australian woman whose organization supports YaMei’s orphanage calls these episodes, “Chucking a Wobbly” ~ David has taken to calling them “Super Novas.”
YaMei cries and screams at the top of her lungs, while she kicks and flails with all her might. We have tried to hold or restrain her to keep from hurting herself but this only makes her angrier and now she has taken to biting herself...or us...if she can.
It’s exhausting.
Mostly we let her thrash it out on the bed till she gets herself tired enough to let me hold her again. If her poor Baba tries to hold she goes again. This is the solution when the tantrums happen in our room...we have not always been so lucky.
Yesterday, she had her SOS medical appointment so we had to go out. From the very first second we entered that building...along with 40 other families and their new children...till the minute we left 1-1/2 hour later, Carissa cried her heart out. She refused to cooperate in any way, making for a long morning for us all.
Then today, she seemed to be having a good morning, so we took her to the hotel playground. For awhile she was fine and she seemed to be enjoying herself. But then she refused to move off the top of the slide to let another child have a turn and when David picked her up to remove her, she BLEW!

Let me tell ya folks...It was NOT pretty!!

We had to carry this screaming, thrashing toddler through the hotel up 3 flights to our room only to discover that housekeeping was in the middle of cleaning our room. We told them not to finish...we insisted...but to no avail. They refused to leave the job undone...sigh. So much to our dismay (and the dismay of all the guests the entire 7th floor) we waited in the hallway with this wild creature for them to finish. What’s even more bizarre is that whenever a Chinese person tries to intervene and ask her what is the problem...she refuses to acknowledge them, retreating behind me like a scared rabbit.
The final straw was this afternoon. After this morning’s episode she was totally exhausted, so after lunch we decided to take a cab over to Shamian Island to try to get some souvenirs. We put Carissa in her stroller as she will usually fall asleep but as tired as she was; she stayed awake and kept moaning and repeating something in Chinese the entire time. Finally, we asked a shopkeeper to tell us what it was it she was saying. The shopkeeper looked embarrassed and apologized saying: “She say you not her mother, and someone please help her find her mother!”
Thank God we were on Shamian and the shopkeepers are used to seeing Caucasian parents with Chinese children or we prolly would have been arrested for kidnapping! David goes out solo from now on while I stay in the hotel room with YaMei. Thank GOD for Starbucks downstairs and Danny’s Bagel’s for take-out!!
I suppose someday we’ll laugh about this, but I am tired...and sick. I know sick usually comes first in that phrase, but I can’t remember the last time I slept well, so I am really exhausted. Then a few times I forgot to use bottled water to brush my teeth and now I am sick as well. I haven’t had anything to eat other than M&M’s and flat beer for two days and I am sitting here feeling rather depressed.
It’s only been a little more than a week, but I am wondering when this emotion of feeling more like a baby-sitter that is avidly awaiting the return of this child’s parents will turn into the bonding experience of a happy new Mom. China has totally lost it’s allure for me (not for David though other than these parenting struggles he LOVES China!) and I am MORE than ready to go home with my new daughter and begin the transition on my own turf...tomorrow is the consulate appontment, then two more days and we can board a plane for home ~ it can’t come fast enough for me!!
At least I now have an inkling how broken my Father’s heart was after He gave His ALL to adopt me and bring me home as His new daughter only to have me resist His loving offer time & again. How it must have grieved HIM to see me kicking and screaming like a foolish girl, crying that my life as an orphan was better than the unknown He had lovingly planned for me. Thankfully His mercies are new every morning and His love is patient & gentle.
And so we also, even with all our limited strength and sinful nature, are committed to seeing this precious, confused child come home and learn to embrace her new life as our greatly beloved daughter. Please pray with us and for us as we claim this to be inevitable for we know that "We love because HE first loved us.." (1 John 4:19) and we know that "Love Never Fails..." (1 Cor.13:8)
From China,
David & Regina
And Carissa YaMei, the Princess of Henan

~A Ray of Sun in the Eye of the Storm~
2005 China Journal
Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Thank you all you Faithful, Faithful, friends for your prayers and encouragement! Our God is good, all of the time and He so especially Loves these little ones!
Carissa YaMei had a much better day and only had a few times of being very upset in the night. She really seems to NEED to express her frustrations physically but then when the tears come, she now wants me to hold her and rock her. She is eating, drinking and back to smiling more now, and will sometimes even let her daddy hold her again.
But the real blessing came today out of the blue, and just totally floored me. I was sitting in front of her steading her on the toilet before naptime she took my face with both of her hands, looked at me, and said "Wo ai ni, Mama, I love you.." just like that in Chinese and English the way I say it to her! I couldn't believe it...I just melted into a puddle of tears!
(PS As NaiNai noted, she is very conscientious about the bathroom...never had an accident yet!!)
Another interesting thing about this enchanting child...
The updated size measurements from Jiaozuo in August were wrong: 80cm/13kg(31-1/2"/ 29#). She was definitely weighed with her brace on as she is only about 25# on the bathroom scales.
But the bigger surprise is she is one TALL girl! Everyone is amazed that she is only 2-3/4. At her medical exam they measured her at 89cm (35")tall. Size 24 months is too short on her long arms and legs, but won't stay up on her "no-butt" waist!
She is a pretty good eater...will try anything, but still prefers noodles as her favorite food. She has left congee and steamed buns in the dust for pizza with everything on it (she slurps down the onions like noodles...) and any kind of fruit, except apples. She drank her Daddy's Starbucks Latte down like she had always been a coffee drinker and will eat french fries only if ketchup is available. Unfortunately, she loves Chicken McNuggets! YUCK!!
Thank you all again for your encouragement...You are all such great people!
From China with Love,
David & Regina

Don't Eat the Noodles Off the Floor
one of our favorite China videos
We took this of YaMei on our last night in China. We love the way she laughs when I growl at her, and are amazed at her Englsh comprehension after only 10 days with us.
Isn't she just TOOOOOO cute???

Our last China Journal Entry will be is the telling of our long journey home. This will be an original entry as we never wrote it down 3 years ago,and it will come from David, as it is his story to tell...

That was then..this is now
the flowering of our "Elegant Plum Blossom"

A little bit about Carissa's name...
It took us over 3 months to decide on our daughter's name. Both David & I have always believed that the meaning of our children's name is very important. We both prayed long and hard about it and decided on Carissa Anne YaMei and we love it!
Carissa, is Italian and means "beloved", which is the same
meaning of David's name. Anne, means "gracious", which
is also my middle name. Ya Mei was given to her by the orphanage, and we felt it was important to keep it not only because it is part of her heritage, but it has a beautiful meaning as well.
“Ya” in Chinese is "elegant, refined", which we felt was very important to keep in her name as a blessing, as she will spend years overcoming her scoliosis. Her particular “Mei” means "plum blossom", and not only do we think that the flowering plum tree is one of the most graceful & beautiful of all God's trees, it is known in China for its ability to flower under particularly adverse conditions.
And so it is that our little Beloved, Gracious, Elegant Plum Blossom astonishes us by continually growing in grace and beauty. The memory of those early days in China would be completely forgotten by now had it not been in our journal. After only 2 months at home, the real Carissa YaMei showed up and she turned into the sweetest, gentlest, most tender-hearted child I have ever met. GONE are the wild tantrums and they were completely replaced by a child whose winsome smile and vivacious personality draw people to her like a magnet. Her tenacity and stubbornness only shows itself when Carissa faced and endured with nary a complaint her four major surgeries this past 1-1/2 years. She did so with the courage and fortitude of a seasoned Army veteran. She is truly a most remarkable child, Beloved by our entire family and by almost everyone who has the privilege of getting to know her. WE are so incredibly Blessed to have her as part of our family and for me it was the first time I KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God really loved me, because He allowed HER to be MY daughter...this Princess of Henan, on the way to her throne ~
Destined to Serve
Destined to Rule

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