December 14, 2014

Life In America

Hey everyone,

Well its been a couple weeks since we landed in the States and its been crazy. We first stopped in California to stay with some close friends of ours, the Faillas. Our time was spent hanging out, going to the beach and getting reintroduced to 'home'. It was awesome to see our kids loving the beach. Chris taught the girls how to boogie board and they absolutely loved it, it was just a really fun time.  On Sunday I got to share in Chris' church a little about our story with Lily. I was really grateful for the opportunity. It was cool because this church that doesn't know us did so much to bless our family like borrowing us things we needed and helping us get around and picking us up from the airport. We were incredibly grateful.

We're now in Minnesota with my family! Its colder here than California (who knew?!). Its been great to be here with family and have our kids get to meet the people they've only seen on Facetime. In other news I had to take a written test to get my driver's license, because my last one expired. Not to worry, I passed! We're going to spend the next month in Minnesota continuing to see family and friends. It will be nice being here over the holidays as well. It was really cute seeing Lily meet her grandpa for the first time, super precious! (and I hate using that word). Lily has said that that she "LOVES" America and all the kids are really enjoying being back.

We do, however, have some needs that we want to share with you:

First, a van. As a large family we are on the lookout for a reliable family van. If you have one or someone you know has one that you would like to give to us (which is tax-deductible) or sell us for a reasonable price, let us know!

Second, a couple unlocked phones. We are looking at finding a phone solution for our family and if you have a couple unlocked phones or know someone who does we are interested!

Let us know if anyone could help out or would like to help out with these needs.

much love!
the petersons

November 28, 2014

The 26th.

I've told this story many times before, but a new wrinkle has been added.

The day we met Lily and brought her home her foster mom was with us. When we met her I asked her when Lily's birthday was. She told me it was the day they found her at the train station, May 4th. My jaw dropped. I was so excited because that's my birthday! Then my translator explained that it was actually May 10th, not the 4th. The misunderstanding came because of this woman's accent and how similar she said 4 and 10.

My friend told me that that the orphanage has the final say in choosing her birthday.

A week later we called the orphanage and found out that her birthday was going to be November 26th. My jaw dropped. Because that's Heather's birthday! And that has been the day for the past four years.

Well as we were nearing the end of our adoption process we found out that our visa appointment for Lily, was going to be on November 26th, Heather and Lily's birthday!

So we had the appointment the other day and it went well. For Thanksgiving we took the kids to the zoo and had BK for dinner. Today Heather is picking up Lily's passport and visa. Tomorrow we get on a plane heading to the States.

much love,
the petersons

November 22, 2014

Love Everywhere

(I wrote this a couple days ago, but am only posting it now)

Hi guys,

As I write this I'm sitting in a dark hotel room as four of our children are sleeping. Heather and Lily are out doing some adoption medical check-ups. It has been a crazy few days...

So we left a few days ago from Xining. Recently we had a falling out with our landlord and I thought I had wrapped up everything with our apartment the last week we were there. When we were leaving for the airport with all we owned we were stopped at the gate of our neighborhood. They refused to let us leave. I was told to head to the office before we could go. They called our landlord and said we couldn't leave. I was so stressed out. Even now I'm not totally sure why he wouldn't let us leave, but regardless we couldn't go. In my mind not only are we dealing with missing our flight, but also messing up the timeline of appointments for all our adoption work. I called a local friend who showed up 10 or so minutes later with his wife and then the manager of our apartment complex also arrived. They worked things out as I huffed and puffed my way back and forth through the office. (Friends of ours also started praying for us.) And we found out that they would let us leave. I was so relieved. It was honestly an incredibly tense moment. (Also thank you to all our friends who are still helping us to wrap up our apartments!)

We then made our way to the airport with our family of 7 and 9 bags (not including carry-ons). We got checked in (without having to pay any fees) and board our first flight as a family.

That night we arrived in Xian where we would stay with some friends. It was an incredible time. We felt so loved. The next day we went to the Civil Affairs building to finish the adoption. We also got to meet the official who months ago came to our home (and we were shocked to see how high up he is in the Xian adoption world, honestly). Everything went smoothly without any hiccups. That night we celebrated with our friends in the best way we know how, Indian food and cake! 

At this point Lily is officially adopted! It does feel different, I can't say how, but it feels like a weight is slowly lifting from us. I say slowly, because I think it will feel even more removed after we get her visa and land in America. But. We're getting there.

The next day we arranged to meet with Lily's foster mom. In the past these meetings haven't gone so well, but we felt like it would be good for Lily (and the foster mom), so we made it happen. We met her and her son at a little cafe and the time went really well. I'm glad she was able to see a healthy, happy Lily with her family. She even gave our other kids gifts, which was sweet.

That afternoon I was able to meet up with one of my oldest and closest friends, Ethan. It was awesome to see him if even for only a little bit. We were able to hand him the money raised for their project and it was awesome to reflect on how far the work has come in the past few years.

That night we flew to Guangzhou. The flight was ok, but we got in at 10:30pm and, naturally, we were exhausted. It wasn't the greatest of moments. We got to our hotel and I watched as a bellboy let one of our pieces of luggage fall off a large stack of luggage. Shortly afterwards I walked over to the bag and noticed it was wet and my jaw dropped in disbelief (with a side of exhaustion and frustration) as I thought it could be Lily's medicine, which is crucial for her to take and not the easiest to replace on short notice. I then realized that it was only a bottle of Benadryl that was destroyed in the fall of of the leaning tower of luggage.

We got into our room and noticed it to be 'a bit tight' for our family of 7 for the next 11 days. We did our best to make places for everyone to sleep (because it was after midnight at this point). The next morning we found out that the pool we had been telling our kids about was, in fact, not open right now. I went to the manager and explained my situation. Shortly afterwards we were upgraded to a much larger room.

This morning Heather took Lily to the hospital for some tests that need to be done for our visa appointment. And now you know why almost everyone is sleeping in our dark hotel room.

We have been so blessed, by so many people, in so many ways, in so many places that it seems unfair. We're trying our best to receive God's gifts without trying to explain, justify, earn, or rationalize them. We are so grateful to so many of you. 

much love,
the petersons