Psalm: 90:09- We spend our years as a tale that is told

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Todd's Final Thoughts on his Journey

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

It also takes a village to lead a Dad through China to get his daughter. When we realized only one of us could travel to China for Talia (the main reason being Harper's cardiologist barring her from getting on a plane and the other main reason being the cost -- plus the fact that Harper wouldn't do so well being away from Mommy that long), I quickly knew I had to step up to the plate and finish this journey for our family. As much as I wish both Harper and Mary Jane could have experienced this trip, I knew she was coming home no matter what -- and nothing was going to stop us.

While in China, I felt like the child in the village. I've done this before with Mary Jane, but never by myself. I have to admit, I was nervous. But somehow I was relaxed at the same time -- a strange feeling before embarking on a trek half-way across the world to meet my second daughter and keep her safe for two weeks! Well, that's where the village comes in. Everyone during my trip pitched in and gently nudged me and Talia back onto the path closer to home.

  • From the stewardesses on the plane ride out to Hong Kong that made sure I was well fed and hydrated to the hotel staff that made sure I got on the right shuttle to the airport(and not Disneyland in Hong Kong!)
  • Then there was my incredible guide in Nanning who taught me how to communicate to my daughter; helped feed, bathe, toilet train, and clothe her in the midst of my foggy jet lag (and my handicap of having only two hands instead of four)! The same guide, David, who reminded me of my backpack I left in the Notary's office, lent me money when I didn't exchange any from American dollars to Chinese yuan and ordered our food when the restaurants didn't speak English. And finally when David watched over me in the airport and shouted out my gate number while I was in line for security to make sure I was headed to Guangzhou.
  • Then there was the nice Chinese man at the airport gate who offered his seat to me when he noticed me and Talia standing with our backpacks. His friend did the same so we could both have place to rest before the flight.
  • Once on the plane, there were the two teenage girls who played with Talia when her Daddy was running out of tricks -- thank goodness those girls came to the rescue!
  • To the Guangzhou airport staff who corrected me to the other hallway and not the immigration line!
  • Then there was my other incredible guide, Richard, who picked up where my previous guide in Nanning left off. He too lent me money when I forgot to exchange more American dollars. He helped me continue my Mandarin/Cantonese lessons for Talia, wrote a small disclosure in Chinese about Talia's inability to ingest soy because of her blood disorder (I used this when I wasn't sure of the ingredients at some restaurants). He kept us safe from the hustle and bustle of the old Guangzhou streets -- telling us who to stay away from, ignore or approach. He always made sure Talia was safe when Daddy was digging through his backpack. Richard is the only guide I will use in Guangzhou – he is simply amazing.
  • There were the families that I met in both Nanning and Guangzhou who gave Talia books to play with while we ate, got my attention when my name was being called at the US Consulate appointment and the countless tips I received from their past experiences in the area surrounding the hotel.
  • There were the restaurant managers at both hotels who knew Talia's diet restrictions and automatically brought Talia's breakfast to the table without me asking each morning. That was a huge help! It saved me an extra trip through the buffet line!
  • There was the pool staff that brought Talia some ice when she bumped herself by accident and talked to her in Chinese to make sure she was alright.
  • Then there were all the bell boys who held the door and kept Talia off the curb while Daddy wrestled his backpack and other items out of the car.
  • On the way home, there was the incredible flight staff on our plane. They helped me with Talia’s diet restrictions by letting me fix special meals I brought on board and gave me hot water when I needed to feed Talia her milk.
  • There was the nice lady on the other side of Talia who was traveling from the Philippines to Chicago to see her grandchildren. She watched Talia for me while Daddy stepped away from his seat to fix Talia her special meals and helped keep her feet and legs warm when Talia felt the need to stretch out on the plane while she was sleeping.
  • There was our weekly Wee Connect Bible class at Harper's school who supported our mission and prayed around us before we embarked on our journey (we still feel those prayers to this day!)
  •  My great friends in Charlotte who took time out to help rearrange the girls’ beds while I was in China so Talia could have a  place to sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s room while she made the transition in her new home.
Finally, we couldn't have started this journey without our incredible family. My wife Mary Jane, my beautiful bride, who is the heart and soul of our clan. She is my guiding light and my best friend who I can always count on to help me weather any storm and be there during the good times and the bad. Her qualities are too many to list and her heart is bigger than any person I know -- that's why I married her! She started this dream and I couldn't imagine building our family any other way.

My little Miss Harper -- love bug of a daughter (and what we consider the lost Empress of China!) -- that we found two years ago that started it all. During the trip, she kept Talia's attention while we
‘Skyped” and helped start the bonding process with her little sister. Her fondness of the mentoring role will help Talia (and hopefully Mom and Dad) with life in our crazy circle! And she'll be the best big sister any girl could wish for.

There were Mary Jane’s parents whose selfless generosity exceeds most people's kind gestures throughout their entire lifetime. To her mother for staying a whole month with her daughter to help while I was away to Mary Jane’s father who made multiple trips back and forth from Philadelphia to Charlotte to make sure things on the home front were ready for two little ones!

To the rest of our family who helped support us through this previous year to bring home Talia. To our friends (both who we know and don't know), who opened their hearts to Talia’s story on our blog and whose contributions have been simply overwhelming. We witnessed enough miracles through this entire adoption process by all the acts of kindness and generosity from you all and individual organizations to fill a book (Mary Jane – if you’re reading this, hint, hint!)

I felt all your love and prayers half-way across the world while I made my way through China and back to Charlotte.

WE ARE FOREVER INDEBTED TO YOU ALL

These amazing people in all the chapters of this journey kept us both safe and were there to shepherd me and Talia home without harm. I feel as if I've grown through this experience. I certainly will never forget it and hopefully with all the pictures we took and keepsakes we collected along the way, Talia won't forget it either. Looking back, it sure did take a lot of people to get us through this trip -- enough to fill a village.

Of course the gold lining in my village is God and I am so grateful for his guidance in forming our family and creating our girls. My faith has grown in leaps and bounds this past year and I am so thankful for the people He has put in our path.

I think this picture best represents God's love for me.


3 comments:

  1. Jeff, Karen, Chloe and SOON Joy!June 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Great summary Todd, congratulations on a wonderful trip. I loved the pic on you holding your two China dolls, forever sisters! Amazing what the Lord can do! Those girls are so Blessed, as are you and Mary Jane. Congratulations buddy!

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  2. Tears! What an amazing journey and show of graditude!

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  3. Congratulations! Such a special family!

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

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